Reducing the risk of accidents for older people

Reducing the risk of accidents for older people 2264

With more of us living longer lives, the medical and caring services industries must constantly increase the emphasis on accident prevention. 

With this in mind, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa) has drawn up a guide explaining what accidents befall older people, why these mishaps occur and how to prevent them.

Care homes and hospitals have a responsibility to ensure that people under their care do not suffer unnecessary accidents. If an unnecessary accident does take place a no win, no fee solicitor can help a person make a medical negligence personal injury claim – however, the standard of healthcare in the UK is generally very high.

But accidents among the elderly, of course, do happen – understanding where and why they happen is the key to preventing them.


Rospa’s guide emphasises that even healthy older people inevitably lose at least some depth-perception, hearing, strength, balance, and in many cases, cognitive abilities and reaction time. Any one of these elements, especially when combined, is a major contributor to falling. 

Falls comprise 71 per cent of fatal accidents for individuals over 65 years of age. Elderly women are especially prone to developing bone weakness – and can be more vulnerable to the hip, elbow, and even neck fractures which often result from these falls. 

Prevention of falls

To prevent falls, medical establishments and caregivers need to institute a combination of firm guidelines as well as physically preventive measures. This includes, but is not limited to, setting schedules and area restrictions for balance-impaired seniors, keeping surfaces clean and free of clutter, and ensuring that there is always ample lighting. 

Burns and Shocks

As a close second, burns and shocks also present a serious threat to the aging population. These accidents are potentially more severe than falls, as the elderly population is more susceptible to suffering serious injury from burns and shocks. 

According to Rospa, elderly people are “four to five times more likely to be burned than the overall population”.

Elderly people who live at home may have old radiators, ovens, and other appliances that are more dangerous than their newer counterparts, while those who live or stay temporarily in medical facilities may be surrounded by electrical equipment. Rospa advises that both scenarios need to be managed by 

•Incorporating cordless equipment wherever possible

•Ensuring each outlet is equipped with a surge protector so that appliances aren’t able to deliver serious shocks

•Keeping kitchen and bathrooms clean but not slippery

•Turning on the cold taps before running a bath 

Other ways of preventing accidents

Other ways of preventing accidents among the elderly include increasing nurse-to-patient ratios and ensuring that the care industry continues to deliver the standards that the aging population has earned and needs.


By James Christie

[Photo accompanying this article by p22earl]