Falls in the elderly at nursing homes

Human body becomes generally weak as the age advances. The elderly often experience falls due to weak functionality of their bodies. Falls are described as an event that leads to a person coming to rest on the ground or a lower surface. It is often experienced by the elderly over the age of 65 years. The falls may lead to injuries, other health complications, and even death to the senior people. Falls, as a health risk to the elderly in nursing homes, has been a significant public health concern. The falls are often caused by several issues, including prolonged standing pain, fictional impairment, and disability in the elder section of the population. There is a need for proper to have put in place an action plan to reduce the risks of falls and improve the quality of life for senior citizens. The elderly deserve sound health care systems at their homes to help them live a deserving life at their advanced age.

The population of people over the age of 65 years in Australia have been increasing steadily. It means that the number of senior citizens at the risk of a fall increases every year. The purpose of this report is to provide fall prevention strategies and programs to address the increased number of fall injuries among senior citizens in nursing homes. The report will also give the most effective intervention measures to help the senior citizens who are at risk of suffering a fall.

The increase in the number of senior citizens and the rise in the number of incidences of falls injuries in Australia makes it a public health issue. Studies show that the one in three people aged 65 and above fall at least once a year. Older women are at a higher risk of experiencing a fall compared to older men. The risk of falling increases as age increases, approximately half of senior citizens over the age of 80 years fall at least once a year. Department of health and aging in Australia says that the total cost of health caused by fall-related injuries keeps increasing per year. The cost of damages caused by falls in the health care system currently stands at $100 million per year. The cost of injuries due to falls exceeds the injuries caused by road accidents. It shows the seriousness of the issues as a matter of public health concern. The government estimates that in the year 2051, the cost would have increased by $1375 million per year.

Falls have been a common cause of unintentional injury among the elderly in nursing homes. It has resulted in a higher number of patients going for injury treatment in hospitals. Studies from the center of disease control show that more than a quarter of the falls happening in nursing are caused by environmental hazards such as slippery floor and poor lighting in the facility. The injuries caused by fall include abrasions, bruises, and cuts. Approximately 20% of the fall results in serious injuries that lead to immobility and dependence. Serious injuries cause fractures to the hip neck and wrist. Some of the senior citizens do got get immediate help after they have fallen hence worsening their health situation. The client develops a fear of falling, which makes them reduce the area of movement and time. The elderly in nursing homes also experience reduced ability to participate in activities they enjoy. It worst case scenario fall might lead to the death of the patient. More than 1000 senior citizens in Australia have been reported to die of fall-related injuries.

The confidence of senior citizens is affected by frequent falls. Most of the older adults are usually taken to nursing homes due to the numerous falls. The nursing homes are required to reassure their clients of positive steps towards prevention of falls. It is always assumed that falls are caused by things that make use trip. For a young person, this might be true, but for the elderly, public health care practitioners have to look deeper. The senior citizens fall because of the normal aging process that is not necessarily a medical condition. Either way falls in the nursing homes can be prevented to reduce the number of injuries and consequences of a fall.

Several risk factors are related to injuries caused by falls among the elderly in nursing homes. Most of the elements are linked to the aging process and environmental factors. The risk factors have been grouped into several categories and how they increase the chances of falling among the senior people. Lack of physical activities may increase the chances of a person falling. Physical inactivity causes the muscles to be weak hence developing weak and imbalances in the significant parts of the body. Physical activities maintain muscle health and improve joint mobility that reduces stiffness. It also enhances body balances, coordination, and reduces the risk of adding weight. The type of clothing and footwear that is worn by the senior people also contributes to the dangers of a fall. Unsuitable footwear and apparel cause foot problems that increase the chances of falling. Most of the older adults say that foot problems reduce their mobility. The foot problems are shared among older people, mostly related to medical conditions. Some of the foot disorders include skin conditions, diabetes, arthritis, toenail problems, and circulatory problems on the lower leg. Unattended leg problems increase the risks of falls among the aged population. Some of the effects of foot problems include lack of sensation, pain in the foot joints, overgrown toenails, and ulcers. The type of cloths a client wares also increases the chances of falling. Long gowns that touch the floor can easily trip the patient and make them fall.

Older people with vision problems have a high chance of falling. As a person grows old, eyesight deteriorates risking the wellbeing of the person. Even for a young person who has visual problems will experience mobility problems. Visual problems affect the ability of people to see far and clearly. It makes it easy for them to fall since they cannot contrast between objects and backgrounds. Medical conditions such as Glaucoma, cataract, and progressive degeneration of the retina also reduces the visibility among the elderly.

The body develops poor body balance as we reach an advanced age. The physical changes increase the risks of elderly people to fall. The poor balances make the muscle strength to reduce and the pace of mobility to be affected. Poor balance means the person will move to sway from side to side and decrease the time of reaction and reflexes. The elderly become unaware of their body position, making them vulnerable to fall. The senior citizens experience risks of falling due to dizziness. The balance of the body is also affected by the medical condition that the elderly people experience during their advanced age. Some of the medical conditions include stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson disease, and Meniere’s disease.

Some of the medication prescribed has been perceived to increase the risk of falling. Studies show that the side effects of these drugs cause drowsiness and dizziness that increase chances of falling among the elderly. Some of the drugs that increase the risk of falling include anti-depressants, tranquilizers, fluid tablets, and sleeping. The falls are mostly experienced when the elderly are introduced to medication. The risk of falling increases when the older person is prescribed to multiple medications.

There are several strategies that can be used to prevent the risks of falling among the elderly in nursing homes. The health care providers in nursing homes are tasked with the obligation of taking care of the elderly. One of the strategies that are effective to help the elderly reduce the risk of falling is encouraging physical activities. Physical activities help older people to maintain the strength of the muscles. With the improvement in muscle strength will help the clients to have stability as they walk. The coordination of bodily function is also improved with physical exercise. The nursing homes are advised to come up with an action plan according to the physical condition of their clients. Different clients have different physical conditions that require a different action plan. The nursing homes have to acknowledge the disparity in the physical condition. Tai Chi has always been used as a way to help strengthen the muscles of the elderly. The nursing home should incorporate physiotherapist to develop the programs for their clients. This enables the nursing home to employ the best action for their clients. Physical activities and exercises also help older people to reduce their weight and stay fit. The caregivers are encouraged to ensure that the elderly go exercise progressively for the intervention measure to be effective.

The nursing home can choose from unlimited physical activities to help the elderly, including gym programs, hydrotherapy, walking, dancing, and gardening, among others. Nursing homes are encouraged to conduct medical check-up prior to commencing any physical activities. Clients with medical conditions and those living with disabilities required specifically tailored programs advised by health practitioners and physiotherapist. Most of the nursing homes use physical restraint as an intervention measure to the patients experiencing falls. Physical restraint does not lower the risk of falls and full injuries. It instead weakness the body muscles and reduces physical function that, in turn, increases the risk of a fall.  Caregivers should be discouraged from using physical restraint and encourage physical exercise among the elderly population in nursing homes.

Nursing homes are also encouraged to create a safe environment for the elderly persons.  They should ensure that senior citizens have an easy time moving around without barriers. The environmental intervention strategy involves making structural changes in nursing homes. Grab bars are recommended to be installed in nursing homes to help the elderly support themselves as they walk. The toilet seats in the washing room should be raised to ensure that the clients are having an easy time as they release themselves. Raised bed increases the risks of the clients falling; the nursing homes have to ensure that the beds are at a reasonable height that will enable them to get off and on with minimal help and strain. Any obstacles in the pathways that could be hazardous to elderly people should be repaired or removed completely. A safe moving environment helps them to move around and exercise without the worry of falling and getting injured. Environment intervention measures in nursing homes also include the type of cloths the clients puts on. The nursing home should ensure that the clothes they wear are not too long to risk them to fall. Unsafe shoes and clothes should be discouraged among the elderly.

Nursing homes are encouraged to create communication channels that would help their clients to report the factors that increase the risk of falling. Constant communication with the clients ensures that the management the nursing homes are able to address the risks of falls. The clients with a medical condition associated with aging require special attention to minimize the chances of falling. The effects of their prescribed medicine should be a concern to the wellbeing of the clients. The constant review helps reduce the side effects and offer a better drug that has less or no effect on the patients.

It may appear that falling is a normal occurrence when you get older, but it is not. It is important to work together with nursing homes and the affected population to ensure that the risks of falls are reduced. Many lives of the senior citizens are being lost due to injuries caused by falls; it’s about time to address the issue and improve the quality of life of our aging population. Identifying the risks of falls is the first step toward reducing injuries and death among senior citizens in nursing homes. A lot of awareness campaigns should be initiated among the families, nursing home caregivers, and the aged on the ways to prevent falls. Prevention strategies should be the interest of both the government and the nursing homes to give the senior citizen a quality life. The preventive measures are put in place to promote healthy living among the older people and support them to live an independent life in the community.


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