An increased vulnerability to falling is an unfortunate occupational hazard of being an elder.
Though there are many things that can cause an elder to fall (medications, surgeries, and impaired vision to name a few), a recent study run by researchers at Texas A&M University, has discovered a mental component that may underlie to the majority of falls in elders.
The results of this study indicate that the increased incidence of falls among elders can be traced to an inability to correctly appraise and visualize distances. Researchers found that people older than 65 were likely to have a visibly reduced ability to properly gauge distance, and were therefore more prone to falling.
It makes sense if you think about it. If a person is incapable of accurately determining how far away a step is, they will either step too far or not far enough, missing the step and causing them to lose their balance--effectively increasing their risk for a fall.
The issue uncovered by this study has inspired further research into how to help elders effectively handle a reduction in their mental motor skills.
It is important that the elderly and their caregivers become aware of the age-induced impairments that can increase an elder's susceptibility to a fall. If you are caring for an elder it would be helpful to take steps to try and reduce the environmental factors, such as loose carpets and slippery surfaces, that can contribute to a fall.
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