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Conditions in Older Adults That Can Result in Falls & Head Injuries

Whether you operate a nursing home, a senior living community, or any other type of business that involves caring for elderly individuals, one of your primary concerns is likely preventing falls among your patients or residents. Indeed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one in four older people fall each year, and one in five falls result in a serious injury such as a broken bone or a head injury. 

At DispatchHealth, we understand just how important it is to help seniors avoid falls and any resulting injuries. That’s why we’ve put together the following non-exclusive list of conditions common among older adults that can result in falls and head injuries. We hope that this information will help you and your team prevent falls from occurring at your facility.

Impaired Vision

The CDC has stated that more than 12 million Americans who are at least 40 years old experience vision impairment. As seniors lose their eyesight, they become more likely to trip over rugs, shoes, pets, and other hazards within the home.

Slowed Reflexes

Researchers believe that as we age, the two sides of our brain have a progressively more difficult time communicating with each other, which can in turn lead to slower response times. If an elderly individual’s reflexes are impaired, he or she may not be able to react quickly enough to avoid a fall. And it will be even harder to avoid falling if the person has also experienced a decline in bone mass and muscle strength.

Balance Problems

Seniors often experience balance issues, which can make them more likely to fall. These balance problems are often exacerbated by conditions like diabetes and either high or low blood pressure.

Use of Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications

It’s common for elderly individuals to take a variety of medications to manage their health conditions. In fact, according to Merck Manual, almost 90% of older adults regularly take at least one prescription drug, and 36% take at least five different prescription drugs. While these medications can certainly offer a number of benefits, many of them can also cause side effects like blurred vision, dizziness, lightheadedness, and drowsiness, all of which can make seniors more likely to fall.

Brain Shrinkage

As we grow older, our brains naturally start to shrink, leaving more room between our brains and our skulls. Our bridging veins, which connect our brains to our skulls, become stretched and also become thinner and tighter. This all means that seniors who fall have an increased risk of sustaining a traumatic brain injury.

At-Home Treatment for the Seniors in Your Care

According to the CDC, approximately 3 million older people each year are treated in emergency departments for injuries associated with a fall. Although elderly individuals should certainly be taken to an emergency room for life- and limb-threatening conditions, in many cases, visits to ERs and urgent care clinics are unnecessary and end up doing more harm than good. That’s because visiting outside providers requires seniors—many of whom have weakened immune systems—to be exposed to dangerous germs in waiting rooms. It can also be extremely expensive if an ambulance is required.

Luckily, when you partner with DispatchHealth, we’ll be able to provide your residents with the treatment they need without requiring them to leave the premises. Our team can treat almost everything that an ER can, and our services cost just a fraction of what you could expect to pay for an ER visit. We accept most major health insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, and we also offer an affordable flat rate for uninsured patients. Plus, requesting care is easy—you can do so over the phone, on our mobile app, or through our website. And once we’ve administered any necessary treatment, we’ll provide your team with a detailed medical report to help ensure continuity of care.

Contact DispatchHealth today to learn more about the mobile healthcare services we can provide for your patients or residents. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have and provide you with additional information.

Sources

DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:

  1. https://www.agingcare.com/articles/falls-in-elderly-people-133953.htm 
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html 
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/resources/features/vision-loss-falls.html 
  4. https://www.diabetes.ca/managing-my-diabetes/stories/how-is-your-balance- 
  5. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-medications-can-affect-your-balance
  6. https://ilcenter.org/news/top-5-elderly-risk-for-falls 
  7. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/older-people%E2%80%99s-health-issues/aging-and-drugs/aging-and-drugs 
  8. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/balance-problems-and-disorders 
  9. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/prevent-falls-and-fractures 
  10. https://psychcentral.com/news/2018/09/13/as-we-age-loss-of-brain-connections-slows-our-reaction-time/18031.html 
  11. https://utswmed.org/medblog/tbi-older-adults/

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