Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Falls in the elderly: The Facts

As I have discussed in the past 2 blogs regarding falls in the elderly that are focused mainly on simple ways to assess if they have a tendency to fall. Now you may be wondering, what is the big deal with falling?

Short answer. A LOT!

Long Answer: As one ages, just like a mechanical equipment, the body undergoes "wear and tear" if I may simply it. Anatomically and physiologically, the body may not be able to handle circumstances as compared to when it was younger. Thus any trauma or accidents such as a fall may be too much to handle.

So now with the facts.

1. Elderly falls that resulted in fractures usually affect the wrist, spine and hip. 90% of those occur in the hip. The effect of course will be immobility leading more to physical deterioration. *

2. Elderly falls is 10x more likely to be hospitalized and 8x more likely to die as compared to children. *

3. 2x longer hospitalization  with increased risk for home care. *

3. Increasing age also has increasing mortality (death) due to falls. *

4. Common injuries that occur in elderly falls, Head trauma, fractures as mentioned above, dislocations or soft tissue injuries. *

* Statistics and facts taken from article of George Fuller, COL, MC, USA in his article in American Family Physician.

So now that the facts are stated, one can now understand why elderly falls can be devastating to the one affected and to their love ones. Is this preventable. The short answer is "Yes". That will be the next set of topics. Stay tuned.

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