Why Falls Happen: Physical Conditions to be Aware of in Seniors

Many may not realize that a fall can occur for various reasons beyond tripping on a rug or a dog toy. The causes of a fall in seniors can range from physical changes to obstacles like furniture blocking their way. Consider the following insights to empower you to take preventive measures and adopt a proactive approach not only during mealtimes but also in your day-to-day life.

 

Let's explore common physical changes that can lead to falls in seniors, often triggered by one or more interconnected risk factors.

  1. Declining Sense of Balance: A fall can result from a gradual loss of balance, a phenomenon that can occur for various reasons as we age. Regardless of an individual's overall health, a loss of balance may manifest due to physical changes, such as stiff or damaged joints. Neurological issues associated with conditions like dementia, Alzheimer's, or Parkinson's Disease can contribute to this loss. More frequently, inner ear problems emerge as a primary cause of declining balance.

  2. Loss of Vision: Connected to the diminishing sense of balance, vision loss plays a crucial role in falls among the elderly. Studies project a doubling of visual impairments and vision loss by 2050, affecting over 1.5 billion people. According to research published in Frontiers in Public Health, fall-related deaths in adults over 50 are globally linked to vision impairment. Risks of falling further increase with vision impairment, particularly for smokers, those with disrupted sleep patterns, and individuals active outdoors. Visual impairment, when combined with other factors, not only heightens the risk of falls but also magnifies the severity of potential accidents.

  3. Declining Physical Strength: While studies suggest a potential link between outdoor physical activity and increased falls in visually impaired seniors, a lack of physical activity weakens overall strength, making bones more fragile and muscles weaker. This decline in physical strength and tone sets the stage for future falls. While maintaining physical activity remains crucial, opting for low-risk activities such as swimming and indoor workouts becomes especially important for seniors, particularly during adverse weather conditions.

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