Falls and Loss of Mobility

Bacsu added that loss of mobility and falls were other prime concerns. They reflected gender differences and involved no discussion of health care to resolve them. Both worsened respondents’ sense of social isolation, limited activities around the house and fostered a loss of confidence and independence. Particularly, falls incited feelings of stress and anxiety.

SPHERU research in 2011 on falls and physical mobility found that about 85 percent of seniors’ injury hospitalizations stem from falls. About 50 percent of seniors were fallers. If they fell once, it was predicted that they would fall again. About 30 to 50 percent of seniors suffer a fall each year. Up to 25 percent of falls result in serious injuries such as a fracture requiring hospitalization. Falls account for 54.4 percent of all injury hospitalization, 75.7% of all in-house hospital deaths, and cost $6.2 billion per year.

Fall-hospitalization rates were higher for women at 19.2 per 1,000 than for men at 10.8 per 1,000 and survival rates from hospitalizations are lower for men.

“Participants downplayed [the] seriousness of falls,” she said. “Men reported falls performing high-risk activities. Women reported falls performing day-to-day activities. Women often kept falls to themselves. The threats of relocation [to a long-term care facility] and [being] institutionalized [are very real]. [It is] sad and depressing. [As a result, senior respondents to the study doubted any hope of] ever getting better. [After all, their] mobility [was] compromised.”

Comprehensive Solutions

To mitigate the effects of gender, spousal health, finances, social isolation and physical mobility on rural mental health, Novik said seniors must stay active with physical exercise, reading, gardening, music, Sunday worship services and dealing with their ability to drive a vehicle. Such activities will give them a sense of empowerment, she said.

Many seniors interviewed expressed optimism and used their sense of humor. For example, Novik said some seniors said they were lucky to live in a small village where they knew all of the residents who could help them with emergencies and could drive them within a half-hour of healthcare service.

Seniors, she said, want to make decisions and solve problems. They have a strong sense of autonomy and independence and like to take part in organized activities, including those with intergenerational opportunities, improved rather than “sketchy” Internet access, support groups for grief and Alzheimer’s disease, more information about mental health services, home health care, assisted living and nursing home services for seniors, nutritious Meals on Wheels, sun lamps, services for Native American seniors, financing counselors and loan forgiveness.

Additionally, Novik said seniors asked for greater infrastructure accommodation in Saskatchewan, including jets or planes traveling two to three hours, additional jet or plane flights, all-weather roads, trains traveling express and higher ridership on local buses and revamped airports.

Read This Story From The Beginning:
Part One
Part Two

This article was originally published Feb. 19, 2014 on the website of PharmPsych.com, one of seven websites that comprise The Pharm Psych Network, a medical communications and education company.