Falls among the elderly have become one of the leading causes of hospitalisation
Can the flawless glossy tiles in your living room turn fatal for the elderly in your home?
Is a beautiful home always safe? Can the flawless glossy tiles in your living room turn fatal for the elderly in your home? Could the clutter of decorative pieces in the hallway be a factor causing falls in adults? In India, a quarter of the elderly age 60 and above (25 percent) and 18 percent of older adults aged 45-59 reported that they have either sustained any injury or had falls in the past two years preceding the Longitudinal Ageing Study in India 2020.
Among the elderly age 60 and above, the prevalence of falls (23 percent) is higher than that of injuries (19 percent). A study conducted by the University of Michigan in February 2022 points out that despite taking prevention against falls in day-to-day life, falls among older adults in the US are increasing annually by 1.5 percent. And it has become a leading cause of hospitalisation and institutionalisation for the older generation.
Dr Manu Bora, Consultant Orthopaedics at Artemis Hospitals, Gurugram, blames the modern design of a home for falls. “Inadequate lighting, slippery floor, absence of grab bars and handrails at essential places are some of the factors majorly responsible for falls. Also, narrow entrances, steep stairs, lower toilet bowl and seat, untidy placement of certain things, directly and indirectly, hamper the mobility of the older generation,” says Dr Bora. Foot problems such as corns, calluses, bunions and ingrown toenails also make the elderly unsteady on feet and at risk of a fall.
Experts opine that perhaps the efforts we are putting in to curb the falls aren’t working. The drastic changes in our living conditions and environmental factors are also contributing factors. Small changes such as clearing clutter (which prevents visibility), using non-slip leg mats, installing grab bars and handrails by toilets and bathtubs, and lighting up stairways and hallways adequately can prevent nearly 70 percent of falls. “In the last six months, we have seen 57 cases of fractures of different bones due to a fall in the elderly. The number of elderly people suffering from vertigo, dizziness and balance disorder is substantial and all these problems jointly increase the risk of non-osteoporosis fractures,” says Dr Lalit Kumar Lohia, Consultant Orthopaedics, HCMCT Manipal Hospital, Dwarka, Delhi.
An excess intake of alcohol or related drugs is becoming a leading factor. “Functional activities of the elderly gradually slows down. They lead a sedentary lifestyle, resulting in loss of muscle strength, which makes them vulnerable for falls” says Dr Prashant Agarwal, Consultant, Orthopaedics and Joint Replacement, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai.
✥ Feed the elderly a healthy balanced, calcium-rich diet
✥ Avoid giving them tea, coffee and fizzy drinks that prevent the body from absorbing adequate calcium.
✥ Ensure they do low impact weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises
✥ Help them with easy relaxation techniques. Breathing too quickly, and deeply, can make them feel dizzy and cause loss of balance