Normal physical and mental changes related to aging (but not associated with disease) decrease functional reserve. As a result, elderly patients become more susceptible to falls when they are confronted with any challenge. Some age-related changes are not necessarily “normal,” but they are modifiable.
The unfamiliar environment, acute illness, surgery, bed rest, medications, treatments, and the placement of various tubes and catheters are common challenges that place patients at risk of falling. Falls are devastating to patients, family members, and providers.
Normal Aging and Risk for Falls A person is more likely to fall as he or she ages because of normal, age-related physical changes and medical conditions – and the drugs that a person takes for those medical conditions.
The normal changes of aging, like poor eyesight or poor hearing, can make you more likely to fall. Illnesses and physical conditions can affect your strength and balance. Poor lighting or throw rugs in your home can make you more likely to trip or slip.
The Top Reasons Why Hospital Falls Occur in Medical Facilities
The most common activity performed at the time of the fall was ambulation (35/183; 19%). Of those who fell during ambulation, the most frequent destinations were: bed to bathroom (37%), bedside commode to bed (11%), and bed to bedside commode (6%).
Each year, millions of older people —those 65 and older—fall. In fact, more than one out of four older people falls each year, 1 but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.
After a fall, injuries are common and tend to be more severe as people age. Over half of all falls result in at least a slight injury, such as a bruise, sprained ligament, or strained muscle. More serious injuries include broken bones, torn ligaments, deep cuts, and damage to organs such as a kidney or the liver.
The major risk factors identified are impaired balance and gait, polypharmacy, and history of previous falls. Other risk factors include advancing age, female gender, visual impairments, cognitive decline especially attention and executive dysfunction, and environmental factors.
home-based professionally prescribed exercise, to promote dynamic balance, muscle strengthening and walking. group programmes based on Tai Chi-type exercises or dynamic balance and strength training as well as floor coping strategies. home visits and home modifications for older people with a history of falling.
One-third of people over 65 will fall at least once a year. Most falls occur on the flat; falls on the stairs or in the bathroom are relatively rare. Old women tend to fall in the house, old men in the garden.
Difficulty getting up from a fall was strongly associated with a history of mobility problems, such as difficulty walking or climbing stairs. Most of the participants had access to call alarm devices, but the devices often went unused.
Root causes of patient falls were tilting of the OR bed, problems with safety restraints, malfunctioning OR bed or gurney locks, inadequate patient sedation and poor communication among staff.