We love our elders, and seeing them in pain as they age is the most discomforting feeling in the world. As they age, their immunity decreases, and they become more susceptible to various injuries besides developing certain diseases. Any fall in older adults brings with it injuries, lack of mobility, limitation in movement, and the fear of falling again. Furthermore, it develops serious effects afterward, such as osteoporosis and fractures in any body part, and if the person is already suffering from any health complication, his chances of developing injuries increase manifolds. Muscle weakness, health impairment, or loss of senses in any elderly individual tends to make him more prone to developing common fall injuries.
Elderly people, just like any kid, develop injuries in the most random ways, and as a caregiver, you need to be careful about the health and well-being of your senior family member and provide them with timely measures. In this blog post, we have covered some of the common injuries in older age people, and while these injuries can happen to anyone, with proper care and timely treatment, these injuries can be recovered fast.
Certain injuries become more common as people age. Being aware of what they are mean that people can take steps to protect themselves or their elderly relatives and reduce the chance of them happening in the first place. Below are some of the most common injuries for older people and their causes.
Bones become weaker and more brittle as people get older. This, combined with weaker muscles and poor balance leading to more falls, means that breaking, fracturing, and dislocating bones becomes a lot more common. Injuries like a torn labrum hip are common in sports due to the excessive strain athletes put their bodies through, but an older person falling can do the same damage.
A hip fracture (a fracture in the top of the leg, not the pelvis) is one of the most common injuries resulting from an elderly person falling. As the person ages, his tendency to bear the entire body weight decreases, resulting in strain on the femur bone, leading to hip fractures and dislocation. In most elderly people, the accidental falls are the main reason for developing hip complications that further decline their health. Seniors with weak muscles are more likely to develop fractures in the hip due to feeble muscle strength and poor balance.
Burns are extremely common among older people. Reflexes slow down, which means the chances of being in contact with a hot surface for long enough to burn themselves are higher. Older people are also likely to start having memory impairments – ranging from slight forgetfulness associated with reduced social interaction to memory diseases like Alzheimer’s. As a result, older adults are much more likely to forget to turn off the stove or to touch something which might still be hot – resulting in more burns.
As the skin and body generally repair themselves more slowly as people get older, elderly people are likely to have more serious burns, which heal slowly – making them vulnerable to infections as well.
Due to overstretching their muscles, elderly people frequently tear their hip adductor muscles, which results in groin injuries. The resultant injuries make walking more challenging. The most common causes of developing groin injuries are kidney stones, muscle strain, nerve injury, or osteoarthritis. Seniors should gradually raise their workout intensity to avoid these accidents. In case the workouts are causing pain, they should not continue with these and consult their healthcare providers.
Obviously, as falls increase and reflexes slow, there is a large increase in head trauma among the elderly – either from hitting their head on the ground or something else as they fall, resulting in injury. Spatial awareness also decreases, and this, combined with a failing memory, often results in head injuries from knocking on open cupboard doors and so on in the home. Perhaps another surprising cause of head trauma amongst the elderly is motor accidents. Car accidents have become more common among elderly people, even if they are still safe drivers. Simply wearing a seatbelt every time they are in the car can reduce this risk.
Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI is caused due to sudden shock in the head that affects brain functioning. It happens when an object enters the head, or any piece of the skull shatters the brain tissue. The physical symptoms of TBI include drowsiness, fatigue, and headache, followed by sensory symptoms such as blurred or improper vision. Some cognitive behaviors which result from traumatic brain injury include difficulty sleeping, depression, difficulty in concentration, and loss of consciousness.
Sprains are extremely common in older adults. They are less serious than a broken or fractured bone, but they can still be very painful, reduce mobility and reduce the independence of the injured person. Tendons across the body become less flexible with age, which increases the chances of a sprain. If older adult manages to catch themselves from falling, the jerk and pull can still cause a painful sprain. Spraining wrists or elbows when getting out of a chair is also quite common if there aren’t sufficient supports with the right grips.
Not only a rub fracture is common among older individuals, but these fractures are the main cause of death among the majority of them. A rib fracture may occur during an accidental trauma or coughing that leads to an increased risk of pneumonia and is highly fatal for people 65 years or older. The doctor may recommend surgery if a broken rib starts damaging the internal organs. Older people with chest trauma triggered by rib fractures have a high mortality rate.
Subdural hematoma accumulates blood outside the brain that results from sudden head injuries. In serious cases, when the bleeding puts pressure on the brain and once it is raised to a higher level, subdural hematoma leads to unconsciousness, and the person may pass out immediately. SDH is common among older people, and even minor trauma may trigger it.
As we age, our bodies slow down – both in terms of mobility, cognitive process, and healing. It becomes harder to prevent injuries, and those injuries become more severe and slower to heal. It is important to take preventive steps to reduce the likelihood of injuries happening, as well as maintain a healthy and active lifestyle to keep our bodies in working order. Addressing and removing risks before they endanger an elderly loved one’s health is the only way to prevent falls and injuries. Although not every accident can be prevented, taking the right measures can significantly lower the chances of injury, disability, and death for seniors while also extending their well-being and boosting their self-confidence.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are common injuries in the elderly?
Some of the common injuries in older people are sprains, Hip dislocation, Groin injuries, Head trauma, lower back injuries, and fractures of the pelvis and humerus.
What is the most common cause of injury in the elderly?
Falls, burns, and vehicle crashes are the major causes of injuries in older age people.
Why are elderly people more at risk of injuries?
The risk of injuries in elderly people increases due to the physiological and physical changes in their bodies, deteriorating body composition, impaired visual acuity, and muscle weakness.
What are the physical difficulties for the elderly?
As a person ages, his chances of developing diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and strokes are increased, which are also the primary causes of 2/3 of elderly deaths yearly.
What are the main effects of an aging population?
As the person ages, his tendency to work decreases, affecting the country’s social and economic growth. Retirement, increased health care expenses, and a decrease in the young and working community negatively affect the economy.
What are the common causes of weakness in the elderly?
Muscle weakness, chronic health issues, increased cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes are some of the common causes of weakness in elderly people.
Why do the elderly lose strength in their legs?
As the person ages, his leg muscle fibers weaken due to prolonged sitting. Poor blood circulation is caused due to plaque accumulation in the arteries, resulting in improper blood supply in the legs and muscles. This is why elderly people lose strength in their legs over time.
Can the elderly regain leg strength?
Through slowly practicing strength-gaining exercises, walking, and keeping themselves active in their daily life routine, elderly people can regain leg strength and combat muscle weakness.
How can I strengthen my elderly legs?
By practicing strength-gaining exercises such as lunges, half squats, ankle circles, and knee extensions, you can strengthen your elderly legs.
What vitamins help in strengthening weak legs?
Vitamin D, B1, and E work great in helping weak legs regain strength and protecting legs from various syndromes as the person ages.
Why does my 82-year-old have weak legs?
Muscle weakness, vitamin deficiency, and poor blood circulation might be the main reasons for the 82-year-old’s weak legs.
What is the common leg problem in the elderly?
Edema is the commonly caused problem of the lower limbs in elderly people.
How can I get my elderly to walk again?
Encouraging them to walk regularly, providing them with the right walking aid, and letting them soak in the morning sun can help elderly people walk again.