Any time that someone trips and falls, the potential is there to break bones and suffer concussions and other serious injuries that can impede mobility. However, when the person falling is a senior citizen, the repercussions can be far more serious and long-lasting.
Old bones are brittle and take much longer to heal. Some never knit together completely. When senior citizens break their hips, they may never regain their previous level of mobility and can even succumb to the complications.
However, there is another insidious and often overlooked complication resulting from an older person taking a tumble. Many develop fears of falling again and suffer psychological consequences like post-traumatic stress disorder. They may no longer trust themselves to safely navigate even familiar terrain. These fears can result in a self-imposed decrease in mobility even if the physical injuries from the fall have healed.
After a fall, senior citizens may no longer feel confident that they can continue to live on their own. They may imagine suffering another fall alone at home and lying for hours or even days waiting for help. This could cause them to opt for a change in their living circumstances, perhaps even winding up in a nursing home. This could permanently impact the quality of their lives and potentially shorten their lifespan.
Limited mobility can exacerbate pre-existing health conditions as well as become the catalyst for others, including:
— decubitus ulcers
— blood clots
— decreased muscle strength
Worrying about a second fall after the first can cause anxiety and depression in the elderly that may require medication. However, many of the prescriptions given to treat depression and anxiety have side effects of drowsiness and confusion. Ironically, impairment from the very medicines taken to combat their symptoms could create another fall hazard.
While the elderly are not the only people who can suffer psychological trauma after a fall, they are perhaps the most likely to be adversely impacted. If a fall is the result of negligence or unsafe conditions that a property owner could have prevented, any proposed settlement should include compensation for all psychological trauma to the injured party.