I am Dr Malli., a physician at Sunnybank Private Hospital and Sunnybank Private Consulting Centre. I want to inform and educate you on the risks of falls. If you are middle aged or older, or if you have elderly parents or relatives, you need to have a fair understanding about this topic.
I treat many patients coming to the hospital with falls. Most of them are elderly individuals above the age of 65. Thankfully, most only present with minor injuries, but some do suffer more serious injuries such as head & spinal injuries, broken ribs, hip and lower limb fractures.
They spend a long time in hospitals and do require rehabilitation before going back to live independently in community. Some unfortunately end up in nursing home for the first time. Treating these injuries cost a lot of money for tax payers and private health funds, but of course the impact to their wellbeing and their friends and families is the primary concern.
The reason why old people fall is their body is weaker compared to a young, fit and healthy adult. In particular, their musculoskeletal system is weak.
Any illness in old age could precipitate a fall; a simple flu, pneumonia, bladder infection or tummy bug increases the risk.
It’s very important to seek medical attention to see if there is an underlying medical condition when someone has a fall.
So how are we going to prevent falls? This is not easy, as one could fall even while standing next to their carer.
Here are a few points of advice
- Be careful when you walk in unfamiliar places (e.g. shopping centres) and keep a look out for uneven surfaces, steep driveways, steps, ramps or wet surfaces
- Always use the mobility aids recommended by health professionals (sticks, walkers etc.)
- Take extra care during walking if you are unwell due to any reason- this is when most people fall
- Don’t forget to wear glasses and hearing aids during walking and make sure area is well lit
- If your blood pressure is dropping during standing you need to be extra careful. Low blood pressure reduces blood flow to your brain and could cause a fall or even a fainting attack
- If you are given a new medication with sedative properties, be very careful. Sedation increases falls
- Never think falls are a normal phenomenon in old age. Falls are not normal; you must see a doctor and get a check-up