Fall prevention: What are the issues?

Every year, many seniors are victims of falls with sometimes very serious consequences. These falls can occur at the home, on the street, or in an institution. It is therefore important to prevent falls as much as possible to ensure the patients remain active, but also to facilitate the work of the caregivers.

Falls in the elderly are very frequent events.

  • Falls happen to between 30 to 70% of residents in rest homes
  • 25% of people above 85 years of age fall again within the year
  • On average, 400 falls per year occur in a rest home with 80 beds
  • 60% of people are admitted to a rest home after a fall at home

The problem of falls must not be assumed to be an inevitability. Preventing falls should remain a point of focus that is essential for both the quality of life of elderly and for the workplace improvement it would offer for the caregiver.

  • 10% of seniors admitted to emergency rooms are there as a result of a fall
  • 20 to 50% of falls lead to benign trauma
  • At least 10% of falls result in severe trauma
  • 70% of falls are not documented
  • For a rest home, the cost of human resources devoted to the consequences of falls is estimated at 150,000€ per year

Consequences of falls for the elderly

Falls in care facilities often have serious consequences. This is the leading cause of mortality due to accidents in everyday life for the elderly.

The traumatic consequences of falls are mainly bone fractures but can also be cutaneous lesions or intracranial bleeding.

The most recurring fracture is the fracture of the upper end of the femur. Though surgical methods have improved, this remains an extremely painful fracture with potentially dire consequences for the patient. Indeed, it can ultimately result the death of the patient, or if the patient survives, lead to being admitted to an institution. The elderly person will frequently also have difficulty learning to walk as before as a result of such an injury.

Many other fractures also have heavy consequences for the quality of life of the elderly.

Psychological consequences post-fall

The post-fall consequences are not only physical, but also psychological.

They are characterized by an increased fear of falling, especially forward. This fear of falling makes the patient anxious.

Other symptoms such as loss of initiative or the refusal of move around also result.


Another post-fall symptom: the retropulsion that we sometimes see when the patient is trying to rise from a chair. It is noted when the person stands up very unstable and tends to fall backwards.

A first fall … and then a second ?

In addition, after a first fall, the risk of a second increases by 20 times compared to a person who has never fallen. This figure is cited by Professor François Puisieux, doctor at Lille University Hospital, in a video conducted by the Regional Health Agency (ARS) Ile-de-France

Watch the video

It is therefore absolutely necessary to diagnose the causes of a fall properly in order to offer active support to the patient. If we intervene effectively, the patient can recover balance and a satisfactory level of stability when walking. If, on the contrary, we fail to diagnose the root causes, we will not be able to provide the best care, and the patient will no longer be able to walk in a safe or confident way.

When should one consider a fall as serious ?

The term “severe fall” up for discussion, but it is possible to consider anything that causes significant traumatic consequence or a fall that has led to a post-fall syndrome with important consequences for the functional autonomy of the patient as a severe fall. It is also considered severe if the patient has had to remain on the floor for an extended period of time.

All these falls can be considered serious and therefore require the urgent and effective patient management.