Preventing Falls in the Elderly Population

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Preventing Falls in the Elderly

Taking care of the elderly population is one of the duties of society including family members, professional nurses, and other healthcare professionals. People aged 65 and more often suffer from specific diseases and serious health issues. The risk of falls is among the most widespread problems that elderly people face. There is a number of reasons, which could lead to falls such as lack of coordination, dizziness, poor eyesight, and pressure fluctuation. Also, there is a number of serious health consequences after falls. Elderly people overcome traumas considerably worse than younger men, women, or children. For example, in the case of fractures, bones of the elderly cannot grow together quickly as connective tissues of the body lack the necessary micronutrients and elasticity. In general, all processes in the body are slowed with the age. Moreover, various injuries during falls can have negative consequences for older people, both physical and psychological. For example, if a person loses mobility, he or she suffers from the serious stress of becoming stationary and a burden for relatives in the sense of additional care needed. These and many other reasons serve as a proof that prevention and minimization of the risk of falls for elderly people are required to be addressed in society. At home and outside, old men and women should feel safe and confident. With this aim, their state of physical and mental health of the elderly must be maintained at the appropriate level to avoid unexpected traumas and to cope with them if such cases happen. Therefore, given the incidence and health impact of fall-related traumas in the elderly, there is a need to analyze the community resources needed to meet the needs of the elderly, identify measures needed to ensure their safety, as well as elaborate procedures for educating this group on the importance of measures for falls prevention.

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The topic is important for studies as the statistics shows that there is the high number of elderly people injured in falls. Each third or fourth elderly falls every year. About 800,000 elderly people are hospitalized with traumas and injuries of various severity annually. Broken bones, hip fractures, and head injuries are the most widespread consequences of falls. Also, about 25,000 elderly people die from fatal injuries after falls each year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). The healthcare system spends cignificant amounts of money on medical costs for falls. Still, falling is not an inevitable reason for trauma for the elderly population. With the aim of reduction and prevention of falling, evidence-based prevention programs, clinical-community partnership, and practical adjustments are introduced and developed in the community. Considering the epidemiological process of dangerous falls among the elderly population, distribution is based on the frequency and pattern of the health issue. The statistics of appeals to the medical institutions, hospitalizations, and fatal injuries mentioned above shows that the issue is topical. The annual pattern of the health issue indicates that fall death rates have increased by approximately 30% in the last decade (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). Therefore, the steps taken to reduce fatality and injuries are in high demand. The determinants of falls among elderly people have also been already mentioned. Body weakness, vision problems, foot problems, difficulties with balance and walking, arthritis, diabetes, use of some specific types of medication and side effects, alcohol or substance use, and cognitive and psychological disorders are the causes, which lead to falls among men and women aged 65 and more (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2016). Also, people of some nationalities are at the risk group for falling, for example, Caucasians (Dionyssiotis, 2012). Socioeconomic status and conditions of living are also considered the factors increasing the danger of falling and trauma. Considering the deterrents, these are therapy programs for elderly people, minimization of psychoactive medication use, management of health issues related with the increased risk of falling, supplementation of microelements and vitamins (e.g. vitamin D, which is responsible for the strengthening of bone tissue), etc (Vieira, Palmer, Chaves, 2016). Also, the questions of appropriate home and community environment or the elderly population and education for the men, women, and their relatives are the steps, which could be taken in order to prevent and minimize falling.

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The number of literature sources is present on the topic of falls among elderly people. The research and analysis have been conducted for several decades. Therefore, nowadays, the social and healthcare spheres are adapted to the issue and ready to present the ways of overcoming the problem. The World Health Organization consists the important information as it presents the issue at different angles including the experience and statistical data from all over the world (2014). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data is the source of statistics proving the falls are among the most dangerous health issue for elderly people (2017). Further, the research by Lee, Lee, and Khang (2013) analyzes the modern and progressive interventions in order to decrease and prevent falls among the geriatric population. The article by Dionyssiotis (2012) analyzes the epidemiological side of the issue and demonstrates the key risk factors for falls. Also, there is the number of supporting sources concluding the necessary information for making the whole picture on the topic including the local centers in the selected area for studies.

Describing the target group who are elderly people (men and women of various ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and profession aged 65 and more), the community of Miami-Dade in Florida is taken for analysis. There is the number of healthcare and community centers in Florida, which are actively involved in the process of falls minimization and prevention among the elderly population in the state such as Miami Matters and Consortium for a Healthier Miami-Dade. For example, the Florida Department of Health indicates that psychological factors such as fear of fall, stress, relocation, or loss of independence are increasing the risk of trauma. Instead, the active lifestyle, safe environment, and regular medical check-ups are recommended. The interventions available for the target audience are specifically developed programs conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Council on Aging (The Florida Departmnet of Health, 2017). These interventions are necessary for Florida as the state has a high proportion of the older population in comparison with the whole country statistics (about 19%). According to prognoses, the population of older adults is expected to increase twice from about 394,000 in 2015 to more than 674,000 in 2040 in Miami-Dade (Zevallos, Wilcox, Jean, Acuna, 2016). The system of community-based surveillance is considered an effective way to study the problem of the falls among elderly people. Therefore, the action plan for an age-friendly Miami-Dade developed by Miami-Dade Age-Friendly Initiative is also based on the conducted observation and analysis of the present situation. Its key messages are a safe and enjoyable physical environment for the outdoor time-spending, comfortable transportation with the available alternatives, and housing, which is adapted to the needs of the elderly population (The Florida Department of Health, 2017). Besides, the authors of the plan emphasize that social participation and inclusion, communication, community support, and timely and available healthcare support are the components of the complex approach for a decrease of the risk of accidental falls among men and women aged 65 and more in Florida state in general and Miami-Dade Country in particular (Miami-Dade Age-Friendly Initiative).

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Summarizing the issue of fall prevention in the elderly population, it must be said that the theme is topical in the communities of developed and developing states. According to statistical data collected during the last decades, falls often lead to serious traumas and even fatal cases among people aged 65 and older. The number of research and analyses on the topic indicate the general reasons, which lead to increased risk of accidental falls and injuries. Health complications among elderly men and women, psychological stress, and unsafe environment are the factors, which worsen the situation. However, the progress in the healthcare and social spheres is evident. The example of the Miami-Dade community in Florida shows that various evident-based and surveillance initiatives give the results, which in its turn serve as the basis for the development of specific educational and healthcare programs. The general recommendations for prevention of falls are targeted at active lifestyle propaganda, minimization of medication with side effects, psychological support by the healthcare professionals, relatives, and community members, and organization of safe environment for the elderly people at home and outside.

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