Older adults account for approximately 90 percent of all hospitalizations from falls, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Injuries sustained from falls can be serious and even fatal. Fortunately, there are measures that adult children can take to help prevent their elderly parents from falling in their bedrooms. Here is what you need to know about bedroom falls and injuries among the elderly.
Common Types of Elderly Falls in the Bedroom
There are a number of different types of falls elders can experience in the bedroom, and each has a different outcome. Here are a few different types of falls your senior parent can experience while moving unassisted in the bedroom, as well as what injuries each poses a risk for.
Different fall directions and their health outcomes
The different directions that seniors have the potential to fall in play a role in what injuries they're likely to sustain. They include:
This is the most common type of fall among seniors, accounting for 19.4% of reported falls, occurring when a senior falls forward, typically head-first. Because this type of fall can cause serious head injuries, it’s important to take measures to prevent your parent from falling in this way. Forward falls can cause broken hips, wrists, and arm fractures, in addition to head injuries.
A side fall is a fall that occurs when a senior falls to the side. These types of falls are particularly dangerous because they can cause hip fractures and other serious injuries, such as head injuries or broken ribs.
Right-side falls are more common than left-side falls (19% vs. 15.8%), but both are likely to have the same outcome in seniors.
Backward falls are less common than forward and side falls, occurring at a rate of 13.6%, but they are just as dangerous to seniors as other falls. These types of falls often result in head or neck injuries, as well as back injuries.
While all falls have the potential to cause serious injury, some are more dangerous than others. It’s important to take measures to prevent your parent from falling in any way, but especially in a way that could result in head or neck injuries.
Common injuries caused by bedroom falls among the elderly
Now that you know the different types of falls seniors are susceptible to in the bedroom, let’s take a look at some of the most common injuries they can sustain from these falls.
Head injuries are some of the most serious injuries that result from any type of fall, but they are especially common in forward and backward falls. Head injuries can range from mild concussions to more serious traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
Neck injuries are also common in forward and backward falls, as well as side falls. These types of injuries can range from minor strains and sprains to more serious fractures.
Back injuries are common in all types of falls, but they are especially common in backward falls. Back injuries can range from minor sprains and strains to more serious fractures or disc herniations.
Hip fractures are one of the most common injuries seniors sustain from falls, and over 300,000 seniors are admitted to hospitals every year to treat this injury. Hip fractures are most common in side falls and forward falls.
Hand, Arm, and Wrist Injuries
Falls often result in hand, arm, and wrist injuries, especially in forward falls. These types of injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises to more serious fractures incurred by seniors trying to catch themselves as they fall.
Being prepared for a fall can help to minimize the severity of the injuries your parent sustains.
Bedroom fall prevention: top tips
Because of the severity of health issues that can arise from a bad fall, the importance of fall prevention in elders cannot be overstated. Here's a look at common fall causes and fall prevention strategies to help keep elders safe in their homes.
Contributing risk factors for bedroom falls among seniors
In order to prevent falls in the bedroom, it's important to first understand what causes them. There are many factors that can contribute to a fall among the elderly. These include:
Fall prevention strategies for your senior parent's bedroom
Fortunately, many of the issues described above are highly preventable, meaning there are quick moves you can make to help reduce the fall risk in your parent's bedroom. Let’s take a look at some fall prevention strategies.
Remove loose rugs and carpets
One of the easiest ways to prevent falls is to eliminate loose rugs and carpets from your parent's bedroom. These can be a trip hazard, especially for seniors with balance problems or weak muscles.
Make sure the room is well-lit
Poor vision is a common cause of falls among seniors. To prevent this, make sure the bedroom is well-lit, both during the day and at night. Consider using nightlights to help your parent see if they need to get up in the middle of the night.
Keep the room free of clutter
A cluttered room can be a fall hazard for seniors. To prevent this, make sure your parent's bedroom is free of clutter. This includes keeping clothes off the floor, belongings picked up, and any other potential trip hazards out of the way.
Encourage the use of assistive devices for walking
If your parent is having trouble walking, encourage them to use an assistive device like a cane or walker. This can help them maintain their balance and prevent falls.
Use proper footwear
Wearing shoes with good traction can help prevent falls. Slipper shoes or socks with poor traction are a common cause of bedroom falls. Encourage your parent to wear proper footwear, both inside and outside the house so they're less likely to fall.
Encourage balance-strengthening exercise
There are many balance-strengthening exercises your parent can do to help prevent falls. These exercises help to improve muscle strength and flexibility, both of which can help reduce the risk of falling.
Some examples of balance-strengthening exercises include:
As always, be sure to check with your parent's doctor before starting any new exercise routine.
Falls are a serious problem for seniors, but there are many things you can do to prevent them. By following the tips above, you can help reduce the risk of falls in your parent's bedroom and help keep them safe from harm.