Falling Accidents and Seniors from a Forensic Nursing Perspective

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I took great interest in an article in our local newspaper last weekend. It alluded to the fact that falls were causing an inordinate number of deaths in Minnesota and Wisconsin among senior citizens. At first glance, we might conclude that our winter weather with ice and snow was a
causative factor, but this has not proven to be the case.

There seem to be other factors in play here. Of 1564 minnesota elderly who died from falls, only 21 died of snow and ice related falls. Some of the theories being discussed are around the cold weather causing blood to become more viscous, thus contributing to the formation of clots
which then dislodge and deposit in vital organs.

Others speculate that the low light conditions of winter contribute to accidental falls, especially for seniors whose vision is declining or who may be wearing multiple focus lenses in their glasses. There is also speculation about the reactions to some medications, decreasing alertness in some and maybe causing dizziness and unsteadiness.

Those studying this issue stress that seniors should get help in their environment so that throw rugs and multiple barriers to safe walking are not contributing to falls. They also stress that slowing down and not hurrying are very important. And exercise so keep balance and joint
range of motion optimal is very important.

As to why this is all happening in Minnesota and Wisconsin, I offer the theory that we are an
independent breed of people, trying to do for ourselves without asking for help and maybe taking risks that aren’t necessary.

I can recall coming upon my 92 year old mother balancing on the arm of the couch to reach a tall cupboard. She was independent and hardy and also in very good health, but with the risks I saw her take, she was also a lucky lady not to have an incident that could have caused a decline in her health sooner.

All the normal factors of aging play into the broken bone theory, such as osteoporosis and unsteadiness. But thus far they are only theories and maybe further studies will yield answers in the future.

Any other ideas about what may be causing so many falls among seniors?

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