Anyone who has a role in older adult falls prevention should consider the relationship between older adult falls and traumatic brain injuries, the higher rate of women falling and experiencing hip fractures compared to men, and postural hypotension.
Older Adult Falls Prevention and Traumatic Brain Injury
Falls, which can involve a bump or blow to the head, are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI). According to CDC, falls are responsible for 40% of all TBI incidents among all age groups that require an emergency department visit, hospitalization, or death. Men across all age groups are three times more likely to die from a TBI than women. Furthermore, 81% of TBIs that occur among older adults age 65 and older are a direct result of a fall.
If an older adult does fall, TBI could be a result. Knowing the signs and symptoms of TBI can help caregivers recognize if a person in their care may have a TBI and needs to see a doctor. Some symptoms include:
- Low-grade headache that won’t go away
- Having more trouble than usual remembering things or paying attention
- Getting lost or easily confused
- Feeling tired all the time or having a change in sleep patterns
- Loss of balance or feeling light-headed or dizzy
- Increased sensitivity to sounds or lights
- Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily
Hip Fractures Among Older Adults
One of the most serious falls injuries is a broken hip. It is difficult to recover from a hip fracture and afterwards many people are not able to live on their own. According to CDC, women experience falls more often than men. While it is not exactly clear why, one of the resulting effects of this problem is women experiencing hip fractures from falls three times as often as men. Additionally, osteoporosis, which is a gradual weakening of the bones and is more common in women than men, could also be a contributing factor for the increased susceptibility of women fracturing their hips when falling.
Many older adults who fracture their hip end up recovering in a nursing home or assisted living facility which can be costly for the family and the state. Some older adults are unable to live independently after a hip fracture. Visit the CDC website to learn more about how to prevent hip fractures by taking steps to strengthen bones and prevent falls.
Postural Hypotension is essentially low blood pressure that occurs when someone who has been sitting or lying down suddenly stands up. This condition is important to spot early in older adults because some of the symptoms of postural hypotension can increase the likelihood of falling. The most common symptom is dizziness or lightheadedness when standing up. If an older adult is suspected of having postural hypotension, he or she should contact their doctor to discuss treatment options.