The elderly are more likely to be seriously injured in a fall than younger people. As bones age, they often become fragile and break easily. Fractures are insults to older bodies and can often cause a range of related health issues. As a result, elderly patients frequently need professional rehabilitation to recover from injuries sustained in falls. Whether they recover in rehab facilities or get out-patient care, their doctors will evaluate various factors to ensure the best outcome. Older patients also learn how to prevent further injuries.

Rehab Facilities Can Help

After fracturing bones, senior citizens typically need therapy to regain mobility. Patients with minor breaks may be able to remain at home and use an outpatient rehab center. Others need to spend time in facilities that offer senior rehabilitation services.

In-house rehab is especially critical when patients have broken hips. Whether seniors use out-patient or in-house facilities, they work with experts like physical therapists, occupational therapists, and rehabilitation psychologists. Patients are usually assigned teams that coordinate their recovery.

Overall Health Is a Factor

Doctors treating elderly patients injured during falls assess several health factors to restore seniors’ health. They look for underlying conditions that could contribute to tripping and falling. According to experts at Better Health While Aging, caregivers check for signs of undetected illness and neurological conditions. Diagnosing all issues that could cause falls is essential to preventing future injuries.

After a fall, a senior’s doctor will run a full series of lab tests to detect any issues that might cause weakness. The elderly may fall due to weakness brought on by a urinary tract infection, pneumonia, hydration, and even undetected mini-strokes. Per AARP, older patients often suffer from multiple issues that not only cause falls but often lead to potentially life-threatening complications.

Doctors Will Review Medications

Another thing seniors can expect after a fall is a careful review of all their medications. Some medicine causes dizziness or sleepiness that can make walking treacherous, especially on stairs or slick outdoor surfaces. Doctors also check to ensure patients are not “over-treated” for conditions like blood pressure or diabetes. The wrong dosage can cause dangerous blood pressure drops and low blood sugar.

Nutrition Plays a Part in Recovery

Seniors need a well-rounded, healthy diet to recover from injuries after a fall, and caregivers usually check patients’ Vitamin D levels. Studies show that treating low levels of Vitamin D could reduce falls and strengthen bones. Vitamin D supplements are essential for seniors who do not spend time outdoors.

Patients’ Balance Affects Treatment

When elderly patients’ are being treated for fall-related injuries, doctors will evaluate their balance and gait. They look for signs of pain or discomfort that could make seniors unsteady. If caregivers find issues, they may refer patients to physical therapists for further evaluation. Doctors also review patients’ medications to see if any affect gait and balance.

Patients Work to Prevent Future Problems

It can take a lot of hard work for older patients to recover from serious injuries like hip fractures sustained in a fall. However, caregivers’ teams encourage elderly patients to do the work required to get them back to pre-injury condition. That typically includes exercise, nutritional balance, socialization, and willpower.

Seniors recovering from falls are also encouraged to make their homes as safe as possible. Many do that by adding walk-in tubs or bathroom grab bars. They may eliminate loose throw rugs and other tripping hazards and ensure outdoor surfaces remain free of ice, water, and clutter.

When senior citizens fall, they often sustain serious injuries that require in-house or outpatient rehab. As part of patients’ recovery, doctors evaluate their general health, medications, gait, and balance to locate underlying, contributing conditions. Seniors may work with several therapists who ensure patients take the steps necessary for a full recovery. Caregivers also recommend seniors make necessary changes in their homes to prevent future injuries.

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "Senior Rehabilitation After a Fall: What to Expect," in Medicalopedia, December 4, 2020, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/9431/senior-rehabilitation-after-a-fall-what-to-expect/].