People age 75 and an older are at risk of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to a fall. TBIs are caused when there is a blow or jolt to the head. The number one cause of a TBI in the elderly are falls. As people age, they are at a greater risk of falling and the risk is greater with women than for men.
In the elderly, 75% of those who have fallen will fall again within the next six months.
Environmental hazards in the home are a leading cause of falls among the elderly. Throw rugs and poor lighting along with objects of everyday living can provide hazards which can make an elderly person more susceptible to falls.
Elderly people have changes to their bodies due to aging. Changes such as weakened eyesight due to cataracts, decreased muscle tone and strength as well as diminished flexibility can make them more prone to fall.
Seniors also take medications for conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes which can have side effects, cause dizziness or make a person more unsteady.
Preventing Falls at Home
Nearly half of all falls occur at home. Take the time to fall-proof your home or the home of an elderly person you care for to prevent falls. The following steps should help:
- Remove throw rugs or use non-skid pads to insure they do not get out of place and bunched up, causing a falls.
- Remove things from the floor that can cause a person to trip such as books, shoes, newspapers and clothes.
- Store frequently used items where they are easily retrieved and not in high places where a step stool, chair or ladder would be required to reach them.
- Install grab bars in the bathroom.
- Install non-slip bathmats in the shower and tub.
- Make sure the home is well lit and light bulbs are replaced.
Fall prevention classes can help the elderly identify causes of fall. Exercise is important as one ages to keep muscle mass, maintain one’s balance as well as strength and agility.
Falls in Public Places
Half of all falls that elderly people experience are in places where they shop and or do business. Businesses owe a duty to anyone who visits to prevent accidents by keeping their property in good repair, providing adequate lighting and keeping the property free of dangerous or hazardous conditions.In some cases, a property owner is liable for injuries a person suffered due to a fall. To provide liability in a premise liability case, the fall victim would need to show:
- The property owner did not keep the property in safe condition for example, not promptly cleaning up a spill.
- The property owner knew that the property was in poor condition but did not fix it or post a sign warning of the problem. An example of this would be not posting a “Wet Floor” sign by a spill at a grocery store.
- The property owner should have known that there was a danger (for example, a loose railing) and did not take steps to correct the problem.
Obtaining Compensation for Injuries Caused by a FallIn some cases, falls can lead to serious injuries such as fractures or a traumatic brain injury. Depending on the facts of the case, a person may be able to recover medical bills, lost income, compensation for pain and suffering and general damages due to the fall.