Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries Among the Elderly

Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries Among the Elderly

The increase in the aging population is becoming a concern for stakeholders involved in the global healthcare sector. An increase in the population of people aged 65 and older has been witnessed in both affluent and low-income countries in recent years. According to McPake & Mahal (2017), in Australia, roughly 15 percent of the population is aged 65 years and above with the figure expected to increase to 22.5 percent by 2050. In the UK, it is estimated that 18 percent of the total population is aged 65 and older and 2.4 percent is aged 85 and older. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the increase in the global aging population can be attributed to factors such as lower fertility rates and a decline in adult mortality rates. In Australia, a male person aged 65 could expect to live for an additional 19.5 years in 2015. The biggest concern for the global healthcare sector with regard to the increasing aging population is their healthcare needs. For the aging population, one of the leading healthcare needs is the prevention of falls and fall-related injuries.

Although there is a wide variation in the estimates of fall rates based on age, living arrangements, and location of the elderly population, it is approximated that 30 percent of people aged 65 and older and 50 percent of those aged 85 and older experience falls. Of the older persons who fall, between 12 and 42 percent are likely to sustain fall-related injuries. Risk factors for falls among the elderly fall under extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors causing falls among the elderly include medical risks, demographic and psychosocial risks, as well as risks related to dependence and activity level. Some of the extrinsic factors that cause falls among the elderly include balance and slip hazards, tripping hazards, and hazards that interfere with vision (Ashby & Beech, 2015). Falls and fall-related injuries have adverse effects on the elderly and the global healthcare system as a whole. It is believed that falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries sustained by the elderly. Falls are also the leading cause of non-fatal trauma-related admissions to healthcare facilities among older persons (Rector, 2018). According to research, the total cost of fall injuries sustained by the elderly in the U.S. in 2015 was $50 billion with Medicare and Medicaid shouldering roughly 75 percent of the costs. Among older patients, falls and fall-related injuries adversely impact the quality of life. Many older persons experience a limitation of their activities and social engagements as a result of falls and fall-related injuries. Other adverse impacts of the same include depression, physical decline, feelings of helplessness, and isolation. As a result of these adverse impacts, it is important for healthcare facilities to collaborate with other partners to prevent falls and fall-related injuries among the elderly.

A number of primary prevention strategies can help to address the said healthcare need among the elderly. Multifactorial strategies such as environmental risk assessment and modification, review and modification of medication, appropriate use of assistive devices, management of visual challenges, and resolving orthostatic hypotension could help in preventing falls and fall-related injuries among older persons (Ashby & Beech, 2015). Another strategy that can be effective in preventing falls and fall-related injuries among the elderly is exercise. It is important to come up with exercise programs that take into account the duration, intensity, and frequency of exercises in which older persons take part. Moreover, muscle strength and retraining on balance with the help of a trained health professional can help to prevent falls and fall-related injuries among older persons.

One of the leading healthcare needs specific to the aged population is the prevention of falls and fall-related injuries. Falls and fall-related injuries are among the elderly can be attributed to extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Prevention of the same can rely on multifactorial and single-factor approaches

References

Ashby, S. M., & Beech, R. (2015). Addressing the Healthcare Needs of an Ageing Population: The Need for an Integrated Solution. International Journal of Collaborative Research on Internal Medicine and Public Health8(4), 268-271. Retrieved from http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/2158/1/addressing-the-healthcare-needs-of-an-ageingpopulation-the-need-for-an-integratedsolution.pdf

McPake, B., & Mahal, A. (2017). Addressing the needs of an aging population in the health system: the Australian Case. Health Systems & Reform3(3), 236-247. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/23288604.2017.1358796?needAccess=true

Rector, C. L. (2018). Community and public health nursing: promoting the public’s health. New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer.