Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries, and the stairs are one of the most dangerous places in an elderly person's home. It is important to protect your elderly loved one from falling on the stairs by providing adequate handrails or a stair lift. Without this extra help, your loved one can become injured from a fall due to their declining vision, loss of balance, and medication they are taking. Here are four types of physical and mental damage that can happen to your elderly loved one if they fall on the stairs.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury. A fall resulting in a head injury can increase your elderly loved one's chance of dying sooner, as traumatic brain injuries cause over half of fatal falls in the elderly.
When an elderly person is hospitalized with a head injury from falling, they are also at risk of having permanent brain damage from the injury. A brain trauma can reduce their quality of life, as they will not be able to live as independently as they once were.
Elderly people who fall are ten times more likely to be hospitalized and eight times more likely to die as a result of the fall than younger people. Keeping your elderly loved one safe from falling, especially on the stairs, can prevent life-threatening head trauma from happening.
Brittle Bone Fractures
When your elderly loved one over the age of 65 is admitted to the hospital with injuries, such as broken bones from a fall, they are likely to be in the hospital for twice as long as elderly patients who are admitted for another reason.
Many times when an elderly person falls, they break one or more bones because they have osteoporosis, which has made their bones brittle. Then, they must stay in the hospital or wear a cast while their bones heal. This limits their independence and mobility and can also affect their mental health.
Hip Fracture and Death
A hip fracture is the leading fall-related injury that results in hospitalization, and these hospital stays are much longer. And, more than 90 percent of hip fractures are associated with falls in people over the age of 70. Recovering from surgery for a hip fracture is not an easy process.
If your elderly loved one falls and breaks their hip, they have a 25 percent chance of dying within six months. If your elderly loved one survives past six months, they have a 50 percent chance of living in a nursing home. Then, there is a 50 percent chance they will still be in the nursing home one year later. Your loved one's life expectancy will decrease 10 to 15 percent just by having a hip fracture.
After an elderly person falls, they are two to three times more likely to fall again. This can make them afraid of falling again, so they will limit their activities. When an elderly person's activities decline, they can become depressed as they aren't able to get around on their own and socialize as they once did. Having this large of a lifestyle change for your elderly loved one can lead to depression.
Depression can cause your elderly loved one to feel hopeless, have decreased energy, and have difficulty in making decisions. They may also lose their appetite and have thoughts of suicide.
It is important to prevent your elderly loved one from falling in their house or on their stairs, so they can avoid these four types of mental and physical injuries. Make sure you make the necessary changes around their home, such as installing railings, installing a stair lift, or improving their home's lighting. Click here for more info on making necessary upgrades to your loved one's home.