Falls are increasingly common in older adults. As the country ages, falls are becoming epidemic. Decreased mobility, isolation, cognitive impairment and depression are among many major symptoms of fall-related injuries in older adults. While some falls may be prevented, most falls cannot, leaving the adult child of an older parent or the caregiver feeling guilty and overwhelmed. Fall prevention including vision checking, removing loose carpets, installing hand rails, and better lighting can be helpful. However, many individuals maintain safe and active lifestyles with fall protection clothing, such as protective headgear and hip protectors that are lightweight, comfortable, attractive and proven superior in safety effectiveness, such as Plum’s® Fall Protection Clothing. While a fall cannot always be prevented, fall injuries can be with Plum’s® Fall Safety ProtectaCap® and ProtectaCap+Plus® helmets and ProtectaHip® hip protectors. Preventing a head injury or hip fracture from a fall is a thousand times easier than curing the results and morbidity from a head injury or a hip fracture, particularly in older adults.
Fall injuries in medical facilities and nursing homes are a noteworthy threat to the life and well-being of their residents. Some fall injuries in older adults can cause traumatic brain damage leading to temporary unconsciousness, seizures and in even result in death. During an overview of fall risks and how to avoid them, Merck Manuals noted that “falls reportedly contribute to over 40% of nursing home admissions … And, at least 50% of nursing home residents fall.”
Considering the fact that falls are a dangerous and possibly life-threatening form of injury for seniors, many nursing homes and other long-term care facilities take preventive measures to reduce fall injuries. Indeed many patients are prone to suffer severe fall injuries if the facilities do not take necessary precautions.
People who have fallen before are at a higher risk of falling again. Even though repetitive falls in these individuals are often caused by the same things, the falls can also be a sign of disease progression in cases like Parkinson’s and dementia, or other intense problems. A majority of seniors in healthcare facilities are fall risks for several reasons. Those factors include but are not limited to conditions like gait and balance problems, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, poor vision, muscle weakness and medications.
Many healthcare facilities take proactive measures to prevent fall injuries by installing bed alarms. However, the reality is that it is not always possible for a healthcare worker to reach the patient in time. Moreover, healthcare workers often risk injury to themselves when trying to break a patient’s fall, and can even inadvertently cause greater harm to the patient.
The two most common and dangerous areas of injury from a fall in older adults are the head and hip area. A proven way to prevent fall injuries is with protective headgear and hip protectors, specifically Plum’s® ProtectaCap® and ProtectaCap+Plus® protective headgear and ProtectaHip® hip protectors, proven superior in both fall protection as well as amazing comfort for compliance.
While we are on the topic of preventing falls and maintaining balance with Parkinson’s disease, it’s absolutely necessary to mention that falls are the second most common cause of hospitalization in Parkinson’s patients. Some frequent injuries sustained during these falls include not only head and traumatic brain injuries but also hip and pelvic fractures, broken bones, and spinal injuries.
The objective is not just a matter of eliminating falls altogether because the reality is that falls happen in life and particularly with increasing age, apart from the fact that some conditions can increase the prospect. For that reason, the focus shouldn’t be on prevention only but importantly on diminishing the scope of the impact of the falls. As stated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “Prevention program emphasis should shift away from a focus on preventing falls as a measure of quality care to decreasing Fall-related injuries (FRIs).”
At this point, there has been plenty of evidence supporting the benefits of physical exercise for the elderly, and the activities do not need to be too aggressive. The types of exercises that are best suited for older adults are often characterized as ‘moderate’. Even so, it’s always recommended that you speak with a health professional prior to starting any new physical activities to determine your limits. Besides Plum’s® protective helmets and hip protectors, Plum’s® ProtectaWrap® protective splints provide targeted extremity fall protection for knees, elbows, shins and forearms. It is never too late to adopt a healthier lifestyle with proactive fall protection to improve your balance, reduce your fall risk and maintain your healthy active lifestyle.
Fall injuries are preventable and do not have to be a normal part of aging.