Common Injuries Among Seniors and Ways To Help Them Cope

As our loved ones age, the probability of them sustaining injuries increases. Maintaining an active lifestyle, like walking, can help mitigate these risks.

Still, it doesn’t change the fact that a person’s body will change over the years and decline naturally. 

Studies reveal that walking near roads increases the likelihood of a pedestrian suffering an injury.

The risks are even more significant for older adults , notably represented in pedestrian casualty figures. 

Considering the heightened vulnerability of seniors, it’s crucial to take their safety more seriously.

Asian woman is doing exercise activities for the elderly

While removing safety hazards from your home can help keep them safe, the possibility of getting injured always exists.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the injuries seniors commonly sustain and ways to help them cope. 

3 Injuries Seniors Commonly Sustain

The health journey of each senior is different. However, unintentional injuries resulting from falls are common risks among older people.

Around 37 million cases of falls occur among individuals aged 65 and older annually. 

Not all these fall accidents result in injuries. However, about 37 percent of those who experienced a fall report injuries that require medical treatment and limit their activity for at least one day.

Such cases led to approximately nine million fall-related injuries. 

Injuries related to falls can range from minor to severe. Because of the physical, sensory, and cognitive changes associated with aging, older adults are more likely to sustain the following injuries: 

  1. Cuts and bruises

Older people have more fragile and less elastic blood vessels, making them more prone to bruising.

As a result, they typically suffer cuts and bruises on the arms, legs, hips, or head after experiencing a fall accident. 

Cuts and bruises are usually harmless. But when left untreated, these minor injuries can become a serious health concern among seniors.

They may conceal more severe injuries beneath the skin. For instance, extensive bruises or areas of swelling may indicate internal bleeding or damage. 

Moreover, some severe conditions like diabetes, anemia, and liver disease can cause bruising in seniors. That’s why getting them examined is essential.

  1. Broken bones

Minor trips and falls may only cause bruising or sprains in younger patients.

However, with decreased bone density, a seemingly insignificant impact from fall accidents can put older adults at increased risk of broken bones or fractures.

A broken hip or hip fracture is often the start of more severe health problems and can result in long-term disability and even death among seniors.

A severe hip fracture can debilitate older adults and almost always necessitate surgical repair or replacement. 

No fewer than 3,000 older people are hospitalized yearly for a hip fracture. Since seniors don’t possess the same healing capacity as younger individuals, recuperating from fractures can be prolonged and hinder their ability to function independently. 

  1. Head trauma

Head trauma is a potentially serious outcome of accident falls in seniors. Trauma to the head can lead to various head and brain injuries, also known as traumatic brain injuries (TBI). 

Depending on multiple criteria, physicians may classify TBIs as mild, moderate, or severe.

Such factors include whether the injury causes unconsciousness, how long the state of being unconscious lasts, and the extent of the individual’s symptoms. 

Regardless of the classification, a TBI can have severe and long-lasting effects on elderly individuals.

In particular, people aged 75 years and older constituted 32 percent of TBI-related hospitalizations and 28 percent of TBI-related deaths. 

Many individuals are fortunate enough to make full recoveries after suffering fall-related injuries.

But others, particularly older people, may experience challenges with mobility and performing daily activities.

Some may struggle with complications for months or even years. You can help them cope with their injuries by taking the following steps: 

Notify the doctor right away

Even if the injury appears relatively minor, it’s best to notify the senior’s primary care physician right away.

This is particularly crucial when the elderly individual hits their head during the fall incident. 

A doctor can assist in addressing any medical risk factors for falling, such as medication effects, vision problems, and underlying conditions.

Being honest with your physician about your fall history and symptoms is vital so they can properly diagnose and treat your injury.

Monitor delayed injury symptoms

Some injuries can take weeks or even months to progress into more serious conditions.

That’s why seniors must undergo a comprehensive medical evaluation, even if they feel fine after falling.

Ensure you help them monitor any stiffness or soreness in their body. The following are a few symptoms to look for in a delayed injury: 

  • Constant headaches
  • Neck stiffness and tension
  • Lower back pain
  • Numbness
  • Pain and swelling

Encourage physical activity

Regular physical activity is beneficial for preventing falls in the future, as it helps boost balance and strength. It’s also a valuable tool for seniors to recover from their injuries. 

Exercise can prevent joints from stiffening and lower the risk of further injuries.

However, it’s essential to consult a doctor or physical therapist beforehand, especially if the injured senior struggles with balance or stability. 

Provide assistive devices

Assistive devices like walking canes, crutches, and wheelchairs can benefit seniors or individuals recovering from injuries. 

These mobility aids can provide vital support and extra stability for users, giving elderly individuals the confidence and assurance to safely move from one place to another.

A doctor or physiotherapist will assess whether your loved one needs an assistive device. 

Make essential modifications

The physical environment at home should also support a senior’s recovery.

There might be essential modifications you have to make to maintain their independence and quality while dealing with injuries. 

Home modifications can be temporary or permanent, depending on the severity of the injuries.

A therapist can help evaluate the home and recommend what to modify. While some of them are easy, others may require meticulous planning by a professional. 

Conclusion

Seniors can unexpectedly hurt themselves in different ways. Regardless of the cause, you should give your senior loved ones the support they need, whether physical or emotional.

Gently reassure them that recovery will take its course and that they don’t need to push themselves too hard.