25% of older people aged 65 and older fall every year, although less than half tell their doctor. Although some falls may cause uncomplicated injuries, others are more severe and result in significant traumatic injury like head injuries, broken ribs, or a fractured hip or pelvis. Severe injuries may need multiple operations and stay in the ICU, before being transferred to another hospital for specialist care. Although recovery is possible for older people, it can take longer — typically many months — to return to normal life.
Why does healing take longer for seniors?
Being older typically intensifies the effects of trauma, making recovery more complex and prolonged. For example, the skin and muscles thin with age (increasing the risk of scarring), bone strength is weaker, and immune responses and blood clotting may be slower. These age-related changes can also increase the risk of other health issues like chronic pain or infection. Healing can also be impacted by existing diseases like diabetes, heart disease, or dementia. Additionally, older people may be on medications which delay healing. Warfarin, in particular, thins the blood and risks causing internal and external bleeding following injury. Patients on warfarin should therefore always seek medical advice following an injury.
Getting support from friends and family will boost your mood and help you feel positive and motivated during recovery. Moreover, if your injury was the fault of someone else, it’s also useful to get legal support. For example, in some states, the property owner is typically responsible for trips and falls that occur on their property. In such a case, an injury attorney can help you win financial compensation to cover current and ongoing medical treatment, as well as emotional pain and suffering. Your attorney will handle the legal process while you focus on recovery with greater peace of mind.
Physiotherapy plays a key role in helping restore functionality (including, balance, coordination, strength, and flexibility) and reducing pain after a traumatic injury. In fact, being as physically active as possible during your recovery (under the guidance of your physiotherapist) will help you get back on your feet faster. Moreover, if an elderly person experiences a traumatic injury or stroke that results in permanent immobility, physiotherapy can help relieve distress and improve overall comfort and quality of life.
Recovery from traumatic injury can be a painful and lengthy process for seniors. By getting the right support and attending physiotherapy, you stand a better chance of retaining mobility and independence.