Common Reasons For Injuries In The Elderly

According to the CDC, unintentional injury is the 7th cause of mortality among older adults. Of these injuries, a large percentage occur due to falls. 

The same paper also shows us that over 36 million falls occur annually among adults aged 65 or older. Of these falls, a whopping 8 million (or almost one-fourth) result in injuries, 950,000 require hospitalization, and 32,000 people die.

Falls present a threat to the health and well-being of older individuals. The question is, what leads to these millions of falls, and what steps can the elderly take to reduce the risk of injuries. 

Three Reasons Why Older Adults Are At a Higher Risk of Falling

  1. Low Muscular Development

Age-related muscle loss is a significant problem that leads to various health problems, especially as people enter their sixties, seventies, and beyond. Aside from increasing the risk of various health issues, losing muscle leads to loss of functionality, making self-preservation more challenging.

Data also shows that older men are at a higher risk of falling from ladders while doing maintenance work around their homes. This could at least partially be attributed to loss of functionality and grip weakness.

  1. Poor Balance

Poor balance is another common reason for falls in the elderly. The problem could occur for various reasons, including low blood pressure, recovery from a stroke, and certain medications. Poor muscular development is also a common cause of poor balance, especially when performing more demanding tasks. 

Losing muscle causes people to also lose strength in crucial areas responsible for maintaining balance: the feet, thighs, hip region, midsection, and back.

  1. Chronic Conditions and Medications

The third common reason why many older adults are at high risk of falling relates to pre-existing conditions and certain medications. For instance, older adults who take pills to control hypertension might be at increased risk of experiencing dizziness. 

These reasons aren’t necessarily due to low muscular development, but their origins are often linked to two things:

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Poor nutritional choices

For instance, a person who has been sedentary and hasn’t paid much attention to their eating habits is more likely to be overweight. A higher BMI is linked to blood pressure elevation, which leads to a range of health issues if not managed. In contrast, active individuals are more likely to be in better shape even as they get older, thus less likely to need medications to avoid health complications.

What You Can Do About It

Regaining functionality, losing excess weight, and getting in shape are the three things you should focus on, regardless of age or circumstances. Though it may seem impossible, it’s never too late to turn your life around. 

One of the best approaches is to introduce some resistance training in your life. Consult your doctor about safe activities you can perform and find a coach who can teach you the fundamentals of safe exercise.

As little as three sessions per week can go a long way in helping you preserve the muscle you have, become more functional, and regain your independence in daily life. Most importantly, doing some form of physical activity can improve your health and reduce your risk of future falls.

August 22, 2022 — Daniel Felstein

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