Preventing Falls in the Elderly

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Topics: Gerontology
Preventing Falls in the Elderly
Natalie StJohn
University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville

As health care becomes more sophisticated and better, other concerns are starting to surface. Such interests that started as mere nuisances are now becoming the focal point of involvement that aims to correct and improve the welfare of individuals. One such clinical concern is the phenomenon of falls, especially with the older population.
Falling in elderly individuals is a significant, yet under-recognized and underestimated public health concern (Woolcott et al., 2009). About 30% of people over 65 years old and living in their respective communities fall annually, with such figures even higher in health institutions and about a fifth of such incidents requires medical attention (Gillespie, Gillespie, Robertson, Lamb, Cumming, & Rowe, 2009). In a one year follow-up study of persons aged 75 years and above living in the community, about one-third reported at least one incident of fall (Tinetti, Speechley, & Ginter, 1988), with a higher annual fall risk of up to 50%, occurred in the oldest population or with the individuals living in nursing homes, with the consequences of injuries and fractures because of falls (like mortality, hospitalization, disability and institutionalization) rise as with the age (Berdot et al., 2009). The estimated costs associated with falls and fall-related complications are at billions of dollars worldwide (Scuffham, Chaplin, & Legood, 2003; Lewin Group, 2000; Smartrisk Foundation, 2009). Hence, research regarding the factors why elder people fall becomes all the more necessary (Woolcott et al., 2009).
There are several reasons why people fall. Fall risk is multifactoral in nature, with risk factors being intrinsic and extrinsic (Graafmans et al., 1996). The most common reasons are uncontrolled hypertension, orthostatic hypotension, and use or inappropriate use of certain medications (Gangavati et al., 2011); Woolcott et

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