Senior Living: Fall Prevention

By Rhonda Kay Leonard

The statistics are shocking: “One in four American’s over the age of 65 fall each year” and “falls are the number one cause of hip fractures”, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Sadly, falls were reported the cause of death for 27,000 Americans in 2014. Assessing fall risk and preventing falls is one of the most important things we can do as caregivers.

Some things to consider when assessing risk include:

  • Has the person fallen in the past year? People who have fallen once are likely to fall again.
  • Has the person been advised to use a cane or walker to get around safely?
  • Does the person sometimes feel unsteady when walking? Needing support while walking is a sign of poor balance.
  • Does the person worry about falling?
  • Does the person need to push with hands to stand up from a chair? Or, does the person have some trouble stepping up onto a curb? These are signs of weak leg muscles, a major reason for falling.
  • Does the person often need to rush to the toilet? Rushing to the bathroom, especially at night, increases one’s chance of falling.
  • Has the person lost some feeling in his or her feet? Numbness in one’s feet can cause stumbles and lead to falls.
  • Does the person take medicine that sometimes makes him feel light-headed or more tired than usual? Or, does the person take medicine to help her sleep or improve her mood? Side effects from medicines can sometimes increase one’s chance of falling.
  • Does the person often feel sad or depressed? Symptoms of depression, such as not feeling well or feeling slowed down, are linked to falls.

This list of questions, created by STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries), is a valuable tool to assess self and others for risk of falling. Please discuss all “yes” answers with a physician. Next month we will look at ways to eliminate home hazards.

Stay tuned…..

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