Falls in the elderly: A multi-factorial problem

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Susan A. Letvak, Professor and Department Chair (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: A74-year-old woman is brought to the emergency department via stretcher by EMS after a fall at home. The paramedic informs you that the woman said she fell in the kitchen while preparing her husband’s lunch. She was found lying on the kitchen floor when the paramedics arrived at the home. The patient denies having lost consciousness and complains of a sore right elbow. Her vital signs are as follows: temperature, 97.6°F; blood pressure, 138/80 mm Hg; pulse, 88 beats per minute; and respirations, 16 breaths per minute. Pulse oximetry shows an oxygen saturation of 97%, and her cardiac monitor reveals normal sinus rhythm. She is alert and oriented. As you prepare to assess this woman, you mentally review your knowledge of falls in the elderly. Falls are a major problem for the elderly, occurring in almost one third of those 65 to 74 years of age and in more than half of those older than 85 years in any given year.1,2 Falls, directly or indirectly, cause 12% of all deaths in people older than 65 years.1 Whereas only 5% of falls in the elderly result in fracture, an additional 5% to 10% result in a serious enough injury to require medical care.1 More than two thirds of elders who fall will fall again within 6 months, and if a person older than 65 years is hospitalized for a fall, the risk of death in the year following the fall is up to 50%.1 Finally, women are more likely to fall; falls occur in 42% of women aged 65 to 74 years, compared with only 20% of men in the same age group.2

Additional Information

Publication
The Journal of Emergency Nursing, 26(5), 448-451
Language: English
Date: 2000
Keywords
Elderly, Falls, Causes, Nurses'Knowledge