Preventing Falls for Senior Citizens: Balance Problems and The Elderly

Senior Medical Alert:

A lot of older people have trouble with balance and getting around safely. There are many common and serious problems associated with balance, the biggest one being falls and another being a loss of independence and mobility. The fear of falling can cause the elderly to lose confidence and consider moving into an elder care facility.

The good news is that many of the causes of loss of balance, falls and instability can be treated successfully.

How common are fall related injuries amongst the elderly?

About one third of people over age 65 fall each year. Over age 75 that likelihood increases to 50%.  A good portion on people over age 65 say they have trouble getting around.

What are the biggest causes of falls for senior citizens?

There are several culprits; environmental hazards (like tripping over clutter, poor lighting, slippery floors and rugs that are not properly secured) muscle weakness, poor balance, vision problems, dizziness and medicinal side effects like confusion or dizziness.

How can you reduce your risk of falling?

Talk to your physician and get evaluated. Get your strength and balanced measured and have your medications reevaluated for possible side effects.  To reduce your chance of falling you can have your prescriptions modified, begin an exercise program, get physical therapy or purchase a cane or walker to make getting around easier.

What are the warning signs that you’re at a higher risk of fall related injuries?

Do you have trouble getting up from a seated position without using your hands? That could be a sign of muscular weakness.  Is your balance unsteady? Does it take you a long time to move around? Are you taking medications that indicate possible side effects include dizziness or confusion? Are you over age 75? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are in the high risk group.

How can medical emergency alarms help?

A quality senior medical alert system can you the help you need fast. Many falls can result in serious injury, long term hospitalization or even death if medical help doesn’t arrive quickly.  We recommend Lifestation as an affordable and reliable emergency call button for seniors.

What causes dizziness upon standing?

A sudden drop in blood pressure is the common cause, also known as orthostatic hypotension). It can be brought about by diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, heart failure, drop in blood volume, dehydration, infection, and a number of medications (such as diuretics and blood pressure medicines). A less common cause is caused by abnormalities in the inner-ear.

Dizziness is a very common problem, affecting over two million Americans. About eight million report problems with balance.

A balance disorder is a disturbance of the inner ear that can make people feel unsteady or as if they were moving, spinning, or floating. Balance disorders are one cause of falls and fall-related injuries, such as hip fracture.

What types of balance disorders are there?

Balance disorders can be caused by a variety of disorders. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BPPV is very common among the elderly. BPPV causes a short lasting, strong sense of vertigo that happens when you move head. Rolling over in bed, looking up or any other change in head position can trigger a loss of balance. BPPV is triggered when tiny calcium stones in the inner ear get displaced creating a feeling of dizziness or vertigo.

What can you do to make your home safer and reduce falls?

Have your home inspected by a senior health care specialist.  Have any loose flooring secured, make sure the entire home is well lit and keep the floors clear of clutter. Have anti-slip strips placed in places like bathrooms and any highly polished floors.

What type of cane, walker or scooter is best for reducing falls?

Speak to your doctor or physical therapist to find the best safety product for you based upon your needs and existing conditions. For some a simple cane will do, others may require more support.

A medical alert device for seniors makes great sense for people who are at a high risk of falling.

You can get a free brochure that will give you all the information you need about medical alert buttons by visiting Lifestation.

Copyright 2011 Elderkind

5 thoughts on “Preventing Falls for Senior Citizens: Balance Problems and The Elderly”

  1. Great article. You are so right. Preventive care is the key. Unfortunately most physicians either don’t have the time or they don’t have the expertise to assess older adults in terms of their risk for falls. Older adults need a multidimensional program that first of all specifically assesses their risk for falling and their overall level of fitness, mobility, flexibility, strength and endurance, and multisensory capabilities. Then they need an individually, targeted program to start them on the road to conditioning, regaining strength and flexibility, gait training, and balance/postural control. I’m a gerontology nurse and have found, over many years of experience, that it is never too late for older adults to make and maintain gains. The approach, planning, and training needs to be geared to their needs. Thank you for this article.

    1. Thanks Regina. I’d love to hear more from you and I’m sure our readers could benefit from your experience and knowledge.

  2. Happy to have come across this site, however,the ability to make the font larger and easier to read/ print would be most helpful. Thanks.

    1. Hi Dawn,

      Thanks for your note. To make this site’s font (or any site’s font) larger – just click CTRl ++ on Firefox. Or, get the browser Add on “Readability” here

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