The risk of falling increases with age and declining muscle function reduces the ability to get up. If an older person is unable to get up off the floor after a fall, the risks of any fall are far greater because of the complications that can ensue from lying on the floor for a long time—for example, pressure sores (often exacerbated by unavoidable incontinence), carpet burns, dehydration, hypothermia, pneumonia, and even death. The high proportion of seniors not transferred to the hospital, the inability to get up has a poor prognosis in terms of injury and recovery following a fall. Lying on the floor for a long time is thus one of the most serious consequences of a fall.
Studies show over half of fall reports described the senior being found on the floor, and most falls occurred when the person was alone. Of those who fell, most were unable to get up after at least one fall and many had lain on the floor for an hour or more.
Statistics show difficulty in getting up is associated with age, mobility restrictions, and severe cognitive impairment. For the elderly who fall and are unable to get up on their own, the period of time spent immobile often affects their health outcome.
A significant number of seniors fear falling. Falls that do not result in injury can still have a detrimental impact on health and well-being. Elders report that fear of another fall results in loss of confidence and self-imposed restriction of activities, thereby increasing the risk of falls. Care providers need better understanding of the perceptions of older people to provide acceptable support services.
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