A pair of recent studies has confirmed what doctors and care givers already knew: even minor falls can become fatal falls for elderly men and women. Watching a loved one pass just months after falling and breaking a hip is so commonplace that it’s ingrained in our culture as “common sense.” However, what many people didn’t know is that the fall itself can cause the fatal decline independent of pre-existing health conditions.
New Research and Shocking Results Concerning Fatal Falls
A research team based out of Portland, Oregon’s Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research found that the risk of death after a fall dramatically increases (in both men an woman) when the victim is over the age of 65. In fact, women between 65 and 69 years of age are five times more likely to die within a year of a suffering a hip fracture.
Where this study differs from others is that it accounted for underlying health issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes. For years it was thought that these conditions contributed to the physical decline fall victims suffered, however, that’s not the case. The increased risk of death was found to be directly linked to the hip fracture itself.
Faced with this dire prognosis Dr. Erin S. LeBlanc, lead author of the study, warned that “we need to do more to prevent hip fractures from occurring….”
Fatal Falls for Elderly Individuals Don’t Have to Be Very Far
When we think of someone falling and breaking a hip we may imagine them tumbling down a flight of stairs or perhaps falling out of bed or out of the bath tub. However, a study published in The Journal of Trauma: Injury Infection, and Critical Care found that even low-level falls (such as falling from a standing position) can be devastating.
These “minor falls” can actually double a person’s risk of dying within one year, depending on their age. Simply put, any fall could turn into a fatal fall for an elderly individual.
Prevent Fatal Falls by Mastering Fall Prevention for Long and Healthy Lives
Falling is one of the leading causes of injury to seniors who live at home and the leading cause of fatal injury. It happens far too often resulting in an emergency room visit once every 13 seconds.
It’s essential that we protect our loved ones by learning the common causes of falls in the home (and how to prevent them). Simple things like adding additional lighting, removing mats or rugs, and adding handrails in stairways and bathrooms can literally save your loved one’s life. So can having someone available to assist with common activities in the two most dangerous rooms in the home (the kitchen and bathroom) such as cooking, dressing, and bathing.
For more information about fall prevention visit The National Council on Aging’s Fall Prevention website. To learn how the caring professionals at Second Family Home Care can reduce the risk of your loved one falling, as well as provide many other much needed services contact us today or call (972) 347-0700.