We have seen the many articles, publications, studies and analysis papers on the cost and liabilities associated with falls. But what about the emotional and mental well-beings of patients and their families?
Speaking from experience, EVERYONE in senior leadership has been affected by a loved one falling. This is one of the many reasons we are so passionate about what we do. Through daily interaction in our office spaces, in the hallway or through casual discussion, the subject of falls from people we know occurs more often than we care to admit.
Through a recent search of articles, one stuck out as an important discussion points. Titled "The emotional consequences of falls for older people and their families", this older article examines an area that warrants further exploration, research and ultimately a solution.
In this article, it identifies that while 25% of patients exhibit a fear of falling, upwards of 58% of their caregivers stated that they have increased fear of their loved one falling again. Fear, in and of itself, is an emotional manifestation rather than a physical one, and with the numbers reported as well as the correlation between fear of falling and actual falls, it is important to highlight.
Some alarming statistics cited:
6% of people who’d suffered a fall were unable to get up by themselves for over an hour or more
62% of those who’d fallen had suffered some kind of injury, with 40% of those describing their injuries as moderate or extensive
Sadly, more than 1 in 20 (7%) of the study sample they spoke to were concerned that no-one would even notice if they fell because they don’t see anyone for days on end.
23% of older people in the study said poor street conditions (poor lighting or poor pavements) made them feel less confident about leaving their home.
And finally, the fear of falling was shown to have a direct correlation with increasing age. Over one in five (21%) of those aged 75-79 were worried about falling whilst this increased to over one in three (35%) of the over 85’s.
Helping people remain active, engaged and thinking positively about their functional participation is one way to continue to move forward toward a more independent life! We know that not all falls will be prevented, however even just stopping one from occurring can positively alter the negative cycle that can begin a long spiral to dependence.
If you or your loved one lives in a supportive community, ask them about their fall prevention program and see how it measures against other proactive systems. As always, if you are worried about you or your loved one sustaining a fall, ask your physician about a Safe Balance assessment and how this program can keep you as independent as possible!