Being Aware of Risk Factors For the Elderly

Posted by Hilary Young on August 23, 2013

Being Aware of Risk Factors For the Elderly

For those caring for the elderly, it is important to be aware of the major fall risk factors. Nearly 40% of seniors will experience a fall each year, with the possibility of serious complications like hip fractures, concussions, and even death. Great care needs to be taken to ensure that a home is free of the main fall culprits, as well as caregivers being educated on the signs they should look for in their charges.

By the Numbers

There exists a certain subset of the senior citizen community that is at a statistically increased risk for a fall. Research has found that the following factors create the highest level of risk:

  • Inside the home
  • Women
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Have a disability
  • Older Age
  • Lower cognitive function
  • Taking more medications
  • Overall poorer health

While most falls do occur indoors – younger senior citizen men are at higher risk for outdoor falls.   

Medical Risk Factor

There are a variety of medical conditions, situations, and medications that can increase one’s risk of experiencing a debilitating fall. The following is a list of high-risk activities and medical conditions that can lead to a fall.

  • Weakness of leg muscles
  • Vision problems
  • Blood pressure drop caused by sitting or standing
  • Foot conditions or foot pain
  • Any balance or mobility issues
  • Any sensory limitations
  • Confusions, dementia, or cognitive decline
  • Medications that can cause dizziness, sleepiness, and confusion
  • The number of medications taken  

Environmental Risk Factors

Most falls occur in the home, and there are certain rooms and items in the house that present a higher risk than others. Caregivers need to be aware of where the highest level of risk is for their clients to ensure that precautions are taken. The following are high-risk areas and items in the home:

  • Any clutter on the floor
  • Area rugs and bathroom rugs
  • Bath tubs and showers that have a step
  • Stairs, especially those without an adequate railing
  • Kitchens, especially if there has been a spill
  • Any situation requiring carrying a heavy object

To provide safe care for senior citizens, caregivers need to be able to see the risk potential in their client, as well as in their environment.


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