Falls in the elderly can lead to serious health complications, from broken hips to head injuries that often require a hospital stay. That’s why this September, for National Fall Prevention Month, we at Acadian Hearing would like to share some of the common causes of falls in the elderly and what you can do to help your elderly relative avoid a fall.
The Big Four
This can mean missing a step, knocking into a corner or tripping over something; all of which can become even more likely in poor lighting.
This can strike at the most inopportune moments, such as when scaling the stairs or getting up from a chair. A wobble one way or another as a result of weak muscles can make it difficult to prevent a fall.
Chronic health conditions
Dementia, heart disease and low blood pressure can all lead to dizziness, that unsurprisingly, leads to falls.
Hearing and balance loss
Age-related hearing loss comes in several forms, from Paget’s Disease that causes conductive hearing loss, to sensorineural hearing loss, caused by damage to the ear’s hair cells or nerves. Both lead to less spatial awareness, which in turn increases the chances of falling.
Age-related damage to part of the ear that controls balance, known as the vestibular system, can leave elderly patients feeling dizzy and nauseous. Again, this leads to more falls.
Solutions and support
We can’t turn back the clock on aging, but there are a few things family and friends can do to support an elderly loved one and reduce their chances of a fall.
‘Fall proof’ the house by getting rid of slippery rugs, adding grab rails in the bathroom and along corridors, and making sure the bannister is secure and the house is well lit.
Speak to a doctor to make sure chronic health conditions are being managed as well as possible. This may include discussing medications, as some can have dizziness as a side effect.
Encourage your elderly loved one to engage in regular physical exercise to improve their muscle strength. And make sure they have supportive, comfortable shoes with good grip.
Arrange a hearing and balance test for at Acadian Hearing and go along for support. We can get to the bottom of their dizziness and fit them with appropriate hearing aids. This will not only reduce their chances of a fall, but also improve their quality of life, so they can get back to enjoying their golden years.