Falling is a high Risk for Older Adults

In old age the physical abilities are reduced. Older adults are less mobile and their sense of balance decreases. Often, they have a poor eyesight, so that they are not able to recognise obstacles. Due to the physical restrictions, older adults tend to fall more often and are not able to control and cushion the fall. Consequently, in many cases, a fall causes severe injuries. Since the bones of older adults are more porous and less flexible than in younger years, they break more easily, the reason why a fall often results in a fracture – the femoral neck fracture is a typical injury in old age. Moreover, in old age the metabolism is decelerated, what leads to a reduced wound and bone healing. Consequently, injuries and fractures are more severe in old age than in younger years. A slowly healing fracture often demands long hospitalisation. Lying in a hospital bed for long time leads to the loss of muscles as well as reduced coordination ability and sense of balance. Therefore, a fall can be the reason that formerly vigorous and active seniors become dependent on care.

Preventive Measures to avoid Falls

In order to prevent falls, older adults should respect some important measures:

  • Avoiding trip hazards: Objects on the floor, cables, protruding carpets etc. can be dangerous tripping hazards. Therefore, the space where the senior walks should be free from objects or exposed cables and several smaller carpets should be replaced by one fitted carpet.
  • Bathroom: Wet floors or surfaces are especially slippery. Therefore, the bathroom floor should be kept dry and the shower should be equipped with an anti-slip mat. Handles support and stabilise additionally.
  • Avoiding hampering clothes: Too long or too wide clothes can hamper when moving and consequently cause falls. Therefore, the senior’s clothing should fit well. Shoes and house shoes should be tight and have a slip-resistant sole.
  • Being cautious when getting up: When getting up from bed or a chair, older adults should remain sitting to make sure that the vertigo disappears before finally getting up.

Electronic Home Aids help prevent Falls

Especially at night, due to a lack of light and dizziness when getting up older adults are in danger to fall. Home automation systems working notice when the senior is getting up from bed. Depending on the system, it is equipped with a motion detection, a bed sensor or a sensor mat on the floor beside the bed. If the senior lives independently, recognising the older adults is getting up at night the home automation system will switch on the lighting to allow the senior to move safely and to see potential trip hazards. When the older adult needs assistance, the system can also inform a relative or a caregiver living in the same house, so that they can help the senior go to toilet for instance.

Wegweiser Alter und Technik: Sturzprävention
Riha, T. J.: Einfluss von Alter und biomechanischer Stabilität auf die Knochendefektheilung
EUNESE: Fact Sheet: Sturzprävention bei älteren Menschen