Falls can cause broken bones, like wrist, arm, ankle, and hip fractures. These injuries can make it hard for a person to get around, do everyday activities, or live on their own.
Falls can cause head injuries. These can be very serious, especially if the person is taking certain medicines (e.g. blood thinners). An older person who falls and hits his/her head should see a doctor right away to make sure they don't have a brain injury.
Some falls can be serious and result in death.
The effects of a fall may last a long time. Many people who fall, even if they're not injured, become afraid of falling. This fear may cause a person to cut down on their everyday activities. When a person is less active, they become weaker and this increases their chances of falling.
Should I tell my doctor if I have fallen?
It is vitally important for people to tell their doctor if they have fallen, even if the doctor has not asked, so that the doctor can uncover treatable reasons behind the fall. People who have fallen may be reluctant to tell their doctor because they think falling is just part of getting older, especially if they have not been injured. Even people who have been seriously injured during a fall and have been treated in an emergency department may be reluctant to admit they have fallen.
Some older people may be reluctant to seek help and advice from their GP and other support services about preventing falls, because they believe their concerns won't be taken seriously. However, all healthcare professionals take falls in older people very seriously because of the significant impact they can have on a person's health.
How are falls treated?
The first priority is treatment of injuries, such as head injuries, fractures, sprained ligaments, and strained muscles.
The next priority is to prevent subsequent falls by treating disorders that may have contributed to the fall. Physical and occupational therapists can help improve people's walking and balance as well as their self-confidence after a fall. They can provide tips on how to avoid falling. Therapists can also encourage people to remain active. Physical therapy and supervised balance training and stretching can help reduce the risk of falling.