Fear of Falling Can Impact a Loved One's Mental Health


Last updated 3/2/2023 at 6:59pm | View PDF

One of the biggest health risks facing older adults is falling. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year 36 million older adults suffer a fall, with three million people requiring trips to an emergency room.

Falls are a leading cause of hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries.

But along with the physical injuries that can come with a fall, there’s another aspect of this issue that also needs to be considered: mental health.

Mental Health Concerns

While the physical effects of a fall might be the most pressing concern, loved ones and caregivers should be alert to signs that someone is also struggling with the issue emotionally, particularly in changes to their day-to-day routines:

• They withdraw from social activities and events.

• Increased anxiety, depression or irritability.

• They are less active than usual and forgoing usual routines.

• They leave their home less often than usual.

When older adults withdraw from their social connections and routines due to a fear of falling, it can exacerbate mental health concerns if they grow more isolated.

Here are a few other signs to be aware of:

• Increased toileting accidents or they bathe less often.

• Holding or clutching onto others while walking.

• Grimacing or bracing themselves while walking.

Steps You Can Take

If you’re concerned about the mental health of a loved one in the wake of a fall, or the fear of one, there are a few initial steps to helping them:

• Meet with a physician to determine their physical risk factors for a fall.

• Meet with a counselor or other mental health professional experienced in working with older adults.

• Install safety features in their home like grab bars and non-slip mats.

• Consider a wearable emergency call button.

• Having them fitted for a walker or other assistive device.

Many older adults are reluctant to be forthcoming if they’ve suffered a fall or are fearful of one, so it requires having honest conversations to bring the issue to light.

This article is courtesy of Prestige Assisted Living at Visalia. To learn more about their programming designed to help residents build and maintain strength or about their community, or to book a tour, visit prestigecare.com/Visalia or call (559) 735-0828.


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