Experts warn of the risk of falling
Injuries caused by falls can have fatal consequences, especially for older people. "Around three million times people had to receive medical treatment in 2014 for a fall," reports the Freiburg University Hospital, citing the figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The proportion of falls in the total accident rate increases significantly with age.
Overall, “every second accident is a fall for men over the age of 70, and almost two out of three accidents for women over 70 are falls,” according to the Freiburg University Hospital. In many cases, small falls are accepted as a normal sign of aging and people are not aware of how dangerous a fall can be, explains the nursing scientist Dr. Johanna Feuchtinger, Head of Quality and Development in Nursing at the University Hospital Freiburg.
Broken bones often result
According to the expert, falls are one of the most common causes of people needing care. Every third fall treated by a doctor results in a broken bone, with femoral and femoral neck fractures being particularly common, the Freiburg University Hospital reports. Every fourth fall had to be treated in the hospital. Falls are particularly dangerous for people with osteoporosis, since their bones are more prone to fractures anyway.
What is the risk of falling?
"The best criterion for a patient's risk of falling is whether he or she has fallen in the past six months," emphasizes Dr. Johanna Feuchtinger, who is responsible for optimal fall prophylaxis in everyday clinical practice at the Freiburg University Clinic. Anyone who has fallen in the past six months must "reckon with a fall at any time," says Feuchtinger. Patients who are also over 65 years old are particularly at risk. In addition, there are various other aspects that are likely to make falls, reports the expert. These include, among others, previous neurological diseases such as a stroke, myopia or farsightedness, psychological impairments such as anxiety or depression, general muscle weakness or medication with an effect on the cardiovascular system.
Trip hazards are a risk factor
In addition, an increased urge to urinate or drugs that trigger it can increase the risk of falling. "Because going to the toilet quickly at night - possibly without glasses - there are many prerequisites for falls," reports the Freiburg University Hospital. Basically, the increased tendency to fall mostly affects those affected by external risk factors. As such, trip hazards such as door thresholds, carpets or clothes that are too long should be mentioned, but also dark lighting conditions, poorly adjusted glasses or slippers that change the gait pattern.
Fall prevention should be more important
"In addition to the dangers of the fall itself, the subsequent treatment, possibly with anesthesia, surgery, long bedriddenness and unknown surroundings, is stressful for the patient," explains Dr. Feuchtinger continues. Prevention of falls must therefore be given greater importance. As a rule, the sources of danger in the household can be eliminated in a few simple steps, reports the expert. However, those affected often find it particularly difficult to “separate themselves from loved objects and habits. But that shouldn't be an argument, ”says Feuchtinger.
React in time, minimize risk
In order to minimize the risk of falling, the prescribed medication should also be checked by the doctor to see whether it increases the risk of falling. Well-adjusted glasses and walking aids can also create safety, reports the Freiburg University Hospital. In addition, there is the opportunity to train balance and strength control in a physiotherapy treatment. According to Dr. At the University Clinic in Freiburg, Feuchtinger also makes sure that the beds for risk patients are as low as possible in order to make any night falls less risky. This measure could also be useful at home. "It is crucial that relatives and those affected take preventive measures in good time - and do not take action until it is too late," concluded the Freiburg expert. (fp)