Experiencing a fall can affect a senior in more ways than just the initial injuries if any.
Many aging individuals develop previously not exhibited emotional responses such as fear, anxiety, withdrawal and even anger. The root could be a commonly experienced conditioned emotional response. Caregivers can take steps to help their senior patient recover from both the physical injuries and the emotional impact of a fall event.
In this article, you will learn how to help a senior recover from the emotional impact of a fall. We will also cover the topic of emotional response, conditioned response, the area of the brain that’s responsible for emotions, and how to develop strategies for assessing, evaluating and preventing falls in senior care.
What Does Emotional Response Mean?
Following a fall that is considered relatively serious, seniors may experience a significant emotional stress response that could hinder both the initial physical recovery and affect long term health and emotional status.
This differs from falls experienced by younger individuals. While some children or young adults are initially startled and can be upset following a fall, most still recover fully and leave the emotional turmoil behind them as they get back to their regular routine.
Seniors often react differently to a fall even if the injuries are not that serious. It is common for older individuals to fear having another fall. This fear can create increased anxiety that can negatively impact physical health and emotional well-being.
Seniors often withdraw from activities and similar situations that might have led or attributed to their fall event. Sleep can be disrupted, and anxiety can affect a person’s mood, eating habits and other activities of daily living or ADLs. Many seniors will avoid going outside, walking without assistance, riding or driving in cars or might avoid previously enjoyed social activities. Some withdraw from others or will avoid talking about the fall or their continuing emotional distress in an effort to control their inner emotions.
What is a Conditioned Emotional Response? How to Determine Appropriate Emotional Response from Emotional Response Due to Stress or Pain.
A conditioned emotional response refers to a learned behavior or reaction in response to an unexpected traumatic event. Sometimes, neutral stimuli that the person identifies with the adverse and now feared to be repeated event actually becomes the stimulus for an immediate fear reaction. The person has an immediate fear reaction to anything that the person has recognized to be a possible cause of their fall.
What is the Part of Brain Responsible for Emotions?
Our limbic system that is located in the brain’s temporal lobe carries out our body’s emotional responses like fear, love or anger. This is made up of multiple brain parts, and the very central emotional processing center is called the amygdala. This brain part receives input signals that our brain sends such as our attention span and brain function levels.
Strategies for Assessing, Evaluating and Preventing Falls in Senior Care
After a senior falls, it is imperative to accurately and thoroughly assess the circumstances that led up to the fall to determine possible causes. Abnormal emotional reactions or a strong emotional response to something after a fall should be looked into. The person’s health status should be evaluated along with a full medication evaluati