More people than ever are being hospitalized for fall-related injuries. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) statistics show from 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2013, the yearly number of cases for injuries from falls jumped by 115,000 – from almost 327,000 to 442,000. More than half of these reported cases were for people over the age of 65, with females more susceptible.
Possible long-term effects of falls:
New research released this month in the Journal of Neurology confirms the number of fall-related injuries remains high. The study conducted by investigators and authors from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) also suggests the long-term damage from these injuries is worse than originally thought.
The study of 165,000 veterans discovered those with a history of traumatic or even mild brain injury were more likely to get Parkinson’s disease later in life. There is also a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s, ALS, depression and bipolar disease if a person experiences a head injury (or multiple in a short period of time).
What was concerning about the study’s results is that despite the participants being veterans, most of the brain injuries they acquired were during their civilian life and were a result of fall-related injuries.
These not only included falls in outdoor settings but also around the house, particularly in bedrooms and bathrooms. In fact, it’s believed more than 60 percent of falls during a typical day occur in the bedroom.
There are many causes for falls around the house, including:
- Poor footwear (such as slippers or socks on slippery surfaces)
- Indoor hazards (such as tripping on a rug or up steps)
- Hazards in the garden (such as uneven footpaths).
To prevent falls, it is also advised to:
- Not walk in socks on slippery surfaces
- Not wear clothing that will cause a tripping hazard (such as long robes)
- Hazard proofing your home (by removing slip or trip hazards such as rugs and mats)
- Cleaning up spills immediately
- Making sure rooms have adequate lighting.
As well as this, older people can look at purchasing emergency alert necklaces or bracelets in case they are alone when they fall. These devices allow the injured person to call for help immediately.