As I dove into the world of senior care and interviewed countless families about their elderly loved ones, it seemed as though almost everyone had a falling story; a story about a parent falling and no one finding out for hours or even days. Along those same lines, I talked to several workers at independent living/assisted living facilities who shared far too many tales of residents who fell and were unable to get up for long periods of time, causing them to have to move into nursing homes for the rest of their lives. People who were completely independent and capable of living alone, their lives changed in just a matter of days because of an undetected fall.
These stories not only inspired me to start CarePenguin, but also made me curious about falls. After hours of research, here is everything you need to know about falls: causes, effects, and prevention.
Falls are common among older adults aged 65+
According to the CDC, one out of four (25%) of adults aged 65 and over fall each year, and after falling once, their chance of falling again doubles. Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall, and, more tragically, every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall. In 2015 the total cost of fall injuries was $50 million, 75% was covered by Medicare and Medicaid while $12.5 million was paid out of pocket (Daily Caring).
What causes falls
Falls among older adults can be caused by a variety of things ranging from physical obstacles to fitness and cognitive ability of the person themself. A cluttered living space and rugs can cause falls. Declining eyesight, loss of balance and flexibility, improper walker use, as well as decreased strength and mobility can also cause falls.
Undetected falls can lead to serious consequences
When a fall goes undetected and the senior citizen spends a prolonged period of time lying on the floor, unable to get up, it is considered to be a “long lie.” Almost 50% of senior citizens cannot get up from a fall without help, and lying on the floor for an extended period of time can lead to serious complications like pneumonia, dehydration, hypothermia, pressure ulcers, rhabdomyolysis and even death (Right At Home).
How to prevent falls
We can help our elderly loved ones prevent falling with the following activities:
- Tidy up their home, ensuring there is minimal clutter or objects that they could trip over.
- Ensure their home is well lit to clearly see where they are walking.
- Encourage safe exercise to build up their strength and endurance.
- Improper walker use can actually cause falls, so ensure they are using it correctly. StrideTech is working to educate senior citizens on how to safely use their walker with their new product that encourages an upright posture while walking with a walker.
How to detect falls before they become a major problem
While preventing falls among older adults is extremely important, detecting falls and reducing long lie times is equally important to prevent a treatable injury from becoming life altering or deadly. That’s where CarePenguin comes in. We detect a steady amount of activity throughout the day and if something changes, or there’s a lack of activity, we let you know so you can catch these incidents faster. If CarePenguin detects a lack of activity when they would normally be active, we alert their family member or caregiver encouraging them to check in.
If you think you would benefit from CarePenguin, it is now available exclusively on our website. Get peace of mind and catch falls faster by signing up for CarePenguin today!
If you’re interested in learning more about falls, I would highly recommend checking out the National Council on Aging (NCOA). “NCOA leads the National Falls Prevention Resource Center, which supports awareness and educational efforts about falls and promotes evidence-based falls prevention programs and strategies across the nation.”