Why Seniors Often Keep Falls A Secret

February 03, 2015

The Centers for Disease Control recently released new findings in their ongoing study of adults 65 and older who suffer from falls. The CDC reports that fewer than half of Seniors report their falls to their physician. 

Dr. Nicole Osevala, an internal medicine specialist at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, believes those who have fallen are worried that their fall signals they are not safe living on their own anymore. 

“They’re worried about other people becoming concerned about safety issues at home and the potential that they may have to move from their home to assisted living or a nursing home”. Dr. Osevala continued "if they fall and don’t have a serious injury, they don’t want to bother their kids or loved ones”.  Also they may hope to avoid ay further evaluation. 

Dr. Osevala strongly recommends patients and caregivers to tell their doctor when a fall has happened. This allows for your doctor to determine the fall's cause and how to prevent any future falls.

Dr. Osevala has classified the reasons falls into three different categories: 

  • What about the patient makes them at an increased risk for falling? 

They may have any preexisting or chronic condition that will raise their risk of falling

  • What medical changes may have occurred to heighten the risk? 

Their may be a number of risk factors, but they have not fallen yet. “Things like infections– urinary tract infections, pneumonia, skin infections — anything that might make them be not quite as strong as they would be normally can put them at increased risk” Dr. Osevala said. 

Also different medications and medication combinations may cause side affects that affect balance. 

  • Are Safety Hazards in the Environment? 

Always be aware for dangerous hazards such as: rugs, loose cords, poor lighting, and clutter on the floor.

“For example, they might try to climb stairs carrying a laundry basket when they normally have to hold onto the railing,” Osevala says. “It may be just a poor choice but they get half way through the task and realize that they’re in a precarious situation and they’re falling.”

Regardless of the fall's cause, one fall will put a senior at a higher risk for suffering from another. 

“It’s really important to report a fall to your doctor so they can look at all of those areas and identify anything that might be pertinent to you and try to address as many as possible”.  

For further Fall Prevention web sites and organizations visit Live Oak's Fall Prevention resources section

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