Falls in the elderly

The tendency to fall increases steadily with age. Reflex actions become slower, and an elderly person who trips is frequently too slow to prevent a fall. Various medical conditions common in the elderly, including poor sight, walking disorders, cardiac arrhythmias, hypotension, and Parkinson’s disease, increase the risk of falls, as does taking sleeping drugs or tranquillizer drugs. Broken bones (see fracture) are a common complication of falls, especially in women. Not only do women have more falls, they are also more likely to suffer fractures because their bone strength may be reduced due to osteoporosis. A fall, or the fear of falling, can also have adverse psychological effects on an elderly person, who may become reluctant to leave the home. Falls may be prevented by taking common-sense measures such as ensuring that handrails are secure, good lighting is available, suitable footwear is worn, and floor coverings and wiring are safe.


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