By ANA THERESA WILLIAMS, BSN,RN
Senior citizens or elderly folks often experience tripping over anywhere and everywhere because of their poor eyesight, frail bodies or medical conditions that prevented them from walking straight and right.
Internist-Geriatrics specialist Eva Estrada Aranas-Angel,MD of Alexian Brothers Wellness Center defined fall as an event that result in a person coming to rest unintentionally on the ground or lower level.
Data shows up to 32 percent of community dwelling elderly fall each year, and fall-related injuries are the most common cause of accidental death.
Dr. Angel said among the intrinsic factors of tripping over include visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, depth perception, dark adaptation, muscle weakness, chronic and acute disorders, and use of drugs.
Extrinsic factors are slippery floors, poor lighting, scatter and new environment, she added.
“Because of the risk for fall, about 5 percent of falls result in fractures of the humerus or the bone extending from the shoulder to the elbows or arm; wrist, or pelvis. Also, about 2 percent of falls result in a hip fracture. Serious injuries such as head and internal injuries or lacerations occur in about 10 percent of falls. Thus, some fall-related injuries are fatal.”
With this having said, it causes the elderly to suffer from injury, be admitted in the hospital, have decreased physical function, and even die as a result of it, Dr. Angel explained.
“As a medical practitioner, we need to decrease the incidence of falls, decrease severity of falls, increase mobility and function, improve environmental safety, provide comprehensive assessment, enhance staff knowledge, and improve the patient’s confidence,” the internist-geriatrics specialist said.
Among the common causes of falls noted in older persons are accident and environment-related, gait or a person’s manner of walking and balance disorders, dizziness and vertigo, drop attack, confusion, visual disorder, syncope or fainting, postural hypotension or a reduction in systolic blood pressure of 20mmHg or more after standing for at least one minute, among others.
In this case, she said the patient should be aware of dizziness due to medications and illness, weakness following a procedure, using the call button to ask for assistance before getting out of bed, wear appropriate footwear or shoes, and sit upright for 10 seconds before standing.
She said the place should also be cleaned up and remove home hazards. Light up your living space well and use assistive devices.
Falls are the most common geriatric syndromes associated with increased morbidity, mortality and nursing home placement. Thus, everyone concerned most especially the family members, should know this by heart to help reduce risk of fall among the senior citizens or older generations.