How Falls Can Affect You: More Than Physical Consequences

Falls among older adults result most frequently in contusions and bruises, but above half of older adults attending emergency services due to a fall present fractures (EuroSafe, 2015). Moreover, falls may also result in non-physical consequences such as fear of falling, diminished self-esteem and, as a consequence, lead to social isolation. These frequently disregarded consequences are so or more harmful for the quality of life and independence of older adults than physical damages.

Falls frequency is directly linked with ageing, and older adults tend to suffer severest consequences when they fall. The mean time in hospital care following a fall episode increases exponentially with age: around 11 days for adults with more than 75 years.

Thus, it is important to know the risk factors for fall occurrences. Remember: the most important part is managing to prevent the first fall and, through some simple actions, reduce the risks for falls.

Risk Factors For Falls

Falls results from a complex interaction of risk factors, both personal and environmental. Regarding the last ones, we will only approach the risk factors related with the home environment since this is the context where the great part of falls occur (ADELIA system, 2006-2008). See bellow some of the most important risk factors for falls.

Environmental risk factors

  • Irregular or slippery floors
  • Loose wires, carpets or rugs
  • Bathroom without support bar near the shower and toilet
  • Bathroom with a very low washbasin or a toilet compared with the person’s height
  • Use of very bright or insufficient lighting at home
  • Irregular stairs or stairs without handrail

Personal risk factors

  • Diminished muscular strength
  • Locomotion problems
  • Diminished reflexes
  • Arthritis
  • Neurological diseases
  • Sensorial deficits (i.e. diminished visual and/or auditory acuity)
  • Take four or more medicines
  • Sedentary lifestyle

A healthy and active lifestyle, proper health care and a house environment allowing a safe circulation are essential action for preventing these accidents. Thus, falls depend mainly from personal initiatives that can be putted in practice in early life stages, even when you think this is not necessary.

Technology For Falls Prevention: Would You Fall For It?

Innovative, technology-based approaches, to prevent fall in older adults, have been increasing in the recent years. Currently, it is possible to find technological solutions targeted at assessing falls risk factors (e.g. balance, gait) and at delivering directed physical activities, exercises and education programmes that help developing strategies to identify and overcome fall hazards. Technology-based solutions of this kind – e.g. promoting and guiding physical exercise – are capable of delivering tailored home-based falls prevention programmes.

If you feel interested in Ambient/Active Assisted living technologies targeted at fall prevention and detection, the project ActiveAdvice will soon be able to support you in searching, get information and advice about the best solution for your particular case. Stay linked to our blog and subscribe our newsletter for more information!