If you care for an aging adult, you know the fear a
potential fall brings. It’s not an unwarranted fear. Each year, millions of
adults aged 65 and older fall. Falls can cause severe injury and even death.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in
2013, 2.5 million falls among older adults were treated in emergency rooms,
and nearly 30% of the patients were hospitalized. And these were cases are the
ones that were reported – less than half of older adults who fall actually
report it to their doctor.
Even if no injury is sustained, reporting the fall is
important. “A fall is a warning sign as it is considered a symptom of another
issue,” said Dr. Carolyn Clevenger of Emory University, president-elect of the
Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA).
As we age, we may develop poor eyesight, stiff joints, decreased
muscle strength, and poor balance. Each of these bring increased risk of
falling. Other risks include conditions such as arthritis, cataracts, and neurological
disease. A fall may help your loved one’s health care team track the progress
of an existing condition, or diagnose a new one.
The good news is that falls can be prevented with some
diligence, planning, and help. The CDC reports that older adults can stay
independent longer and reduce their risk of falling if they:
• Ask their doctor or pharmacist to
review their medicines—both prescription and over-the-counter—to identify
medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or
• Have their eyes checked by an eye
doctor at least once a year and update their eyeglasses to maximize their
vision. Consider getting a pair with single vision distance lenses for some
activities such as walking outside.
their homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and
outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding railings on both sides
of stairways, and improving the lighting in their homes.
You can gauge your
loved one’s strength and balance and learn exercises to help them correct any deficiencies
by watching the video series Prevent
Senior Falls: Assessment and Balance Exercises.
I never thought as a fall being a warning sign of another issue such as poor eyesight or stiff joints. Sometimes all I worry about is if they are injured or not and forget about looking at the symptoms of other problems. You have given me some great suggestions to help track or diagnose those problems. Thanks for a great post. http://www.distressaid.ca
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