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Falls in the elderly

The predisposition to falling over heightens gradually with age, chiefly due to an eventual slowing down of reflex actions; an elderly person who falls in regularly too slow to avoid a fall.


Trips and falls can simply be due to accidents, which are usually the result of obstructions on the ground, or they can be caused by medical issues. A variety of medical conditions are common with elderly people, amplify the likelihood of falls. Example of these conditions are walking disorders, poor sight, Parkinson’s disease (movement disorder), and hypotension (low blood pressure), cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). Taking tranquiliser drugs or sleeping drugs can also increase the risk of trips and falls. Falls sometimes herald the onset of a severe illness, such as pneumonia.


Broken bones are a frequent obstacle of trips and falls, particularly in women. Not only do women experience more falls, but they are also more susceptible to suffer fractures because the strength of their bones can be lessened through osteoporosis (loss of bone density).

Trips and falls can occasionally have serious, indirect consequences in elderly people. Anyone who trips and falls and lies on the floor for more than an hour, particularly if it is cold, can develop hypothermia. A fall, or the fear off falling, can also incur psychological effects, causing a once active person to become housebound and demoralised.


Trips and falls can be prevented by taking practical, common-sense measure, such as ensuring good lighting, having floors free of clutter, suitable footwear is worn, floor coverings and wiring are safe, and hand rails are secured. For those elderly people that live alone, personal alarms are on offer, that can be worn around a person’s neck at all times; in the event of a fall the alarm button can be pressed to call for help.

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