Falls are common when it comes to the older population and it has become a recurrent problem in American hospitals with detrimental consequences for the victims. Falls can be described as accidentally coming to rest on the ground, floor, or a hard surface, and often after a fall, medical attention is required (Patil et al, 2015). The geriatric population that is above 65 years dies mostly due to injury caused by falls. Statistics account for 24% of serious injuries sustained from falls whereby one in every 3 elderly adults falls each year and 6% of them sustain fractures (Kikkert et al, 2017).
The first step in preventing falls is the identification of patients who are at a greater risk of falling (Nazarko, 2015). Some of the causes of falling include cognitive, neuromuscular function, sensory declining due to age while age, gender, and anthropometry are some of the demographic characteristics that are associated with falls in adults living in the community (Kikket et al, 2017). This can be observed in hospitals or facilities that accommodate the elderly in the society who are more prone to falls. Half of the geriatric patients use polypharmacy which contributes greatly to falls.
Falls according to studies conducted is a major cause of problem among the elderly coupled with other geriatric giants such as inconsistencies, confusion, iatrogenic disorder and impaired homeostasis (Patil et al, 2015). Falls results in pains, morbidity, psychological side effects, and functional impairment, and the worst case scenario being death. Falls have therefore become a menace that requires to be addressed as a healthcare priority. Falls account for 15% of emergency department visits and cause approximately 25% of mild to serious injuries among the American population (Patil et al, 2015).
A higher percentage of falls happen at home and there are several hazardous environmental issues that account for falls including poor lighting, slippery floors, and lack of proper staircase designs, clutter, and slippery surfaces in the bathroom (Coppedge, 2016). Studies show that 81.1% of the reported falls were a result of people who had interacted with a hazardous environment (Alshammari et al, 2018) Falls can also be traced back to difficulties in movement, vision, mental impairment, various medication, and incontinence. Elderly people with underlying chronic conditions are at a higher risk of getting a fall as compared to those with no chronic conditions.
35 million disabilities are caused by falls Worldwide and this leads to a change of lifestyle for the victims and their families as those affected are unable to perform their duties as before (Palumbo et al, 2015). One of the critical effects of falls to the families of the victims is the cost of treatment with $0.2 billion estimated to cater for fatal falls while approximately $20billion goes into fewer fatal falls (Alshammari et al, 2018). Falls can lead to loss of life where the injuries sustained are severe and the victims’ fails to survive and at times these victims are the sole breadwinners of their families who are left to fend for themselves.
Falls among the geriatric population are an important topic because the safety of patients is crucial in the healthcare system as it ensures quality care by identifying and preventing risks that are likely to cause falls (Nazarko, 2015). Accidents caused by falls in nursing homes point out to system failure in organizational structures and therefore identifying and addressing these risks has a significant impact on nursing practice because they will be tasked with undergoing advanced training intervention that will improve outcome and reduce untimely events such as falls (Dellinger, 2017).
A proposed solution to falls is the development of complex fall prevention intervention that entails assessing and evaluating the elderly for fall risk by healthcare professionals such as nurses (Chu, 2017). This approach will affect nursing practice in that they will be tasked as the primary caregivers with assisting the geriatric with exercises, ensuring safety precautions are in place in the nursing homes, evaluate the patient’s mobility, fall history, and developing specific strategies within the care that will be responsible for reducing and controlling fall risk (Nazarko, 2015).
Alshammari, S. A., Alhassan, A. M., Aldawsari, M. A., Bazuhair, F. O., Alotaibi, F. K., Aldakhil, A. A., & Abdulfattah, F. W. (2018). Falls among elderly and its relation with their health problems and surrounding environmental factors in Riyadh. Journal of family & community medicine, 25(1), 29–34. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5774040/
Chu, Ruby Z. (2017). Preventing in-patient falls, Nursing – Volume 47 – Issue 3.
Coppedge, N., Conner, K., & Se, S. F. (2016). Using a standardized fall prevention tool
Dellinger A. (2017). Older Adult Falls: Effective Approaches to Prevention. Current trauma reports, 3(2), 118–123. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40719-017-0087-x
Kikkert, L. H., De Groot, M. H., van Campen, J. P., Beijnen, J. H., Hortobágyi, T., Vuillerme, N., & Lamoth, C. C. (2017). Gait dynamics to optimize fall risk assessment in geriatric
Nazarko, L. (2015). Modifiable risk factors for falls and minimizing the risk of harm. Nurse Prescribing. https://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/abs/10.12968/npre.2015.13.4.192
Palumbo, P., Palmerini, L., Bandinelli, S., & Chiari, L. (2015). Fall risk assessment tools for elderly living in the community: can we do better?. PLoS one, 10(12), e0146247.
Patil, S. S., Suryanarayana, S. P., Dinesh, R., Shivraj, N. S., & Murthy, N. S. (2015). Risk factors for falls among elderly: A community-based study. International Journal of Health & Allied Sciences, 4(3), 135.patients admitted to an outpatient diagnostic clinic. PloS one, 12(6), e0178615.
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