Why The Elderly Fall: The Environmental Risk Factors

The elderly are prone to falls and accidents.  Aging brings with it changes in the body, most of which results in a poor physical state.  While the weakened physical condition of the elderly can be blamed for falls, the environment in which they live plays a bigger role.  Statistics show that most of the falling incidents involving older people are brought about by an environmental factor.

According to research, there are several hazards found in the home and the public environment in general that contributes to falls and the injuries related to it.  One of the hazards identified is the stairs.  Not all stairs are similar, so not all kinds of stairs are dangerous.  Stairs that put the elderly at risk are those that are too high or uneven, even those with narrow steps.  Stairs with slippery surfaces and whose edges are not marked can cause falls, too.  Handrails and lighting also make staircases dangerous for the elderly.

There are other things in and around the home that serve as environmental risk factors for elderly falls.  Indoor hazards include uneven or loose rugs; hard to find or hard to reach light switches; slippery shower stalls, toilets and bathtubs; and appliance cords in walking routes.  Even the lack of night lights can cause falls. Outside, hazards include cracked or slippery walkways.

Believe it or not, assistive living devices can also cause falls.  Worn tips of canes makes the device unsafe, just as malfunctioning locking mechanisms in wheelchairs make the chairs hazardous.

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