Risk For Falls In Older Adults By: Lauren Dinkelacker

Many people have a friend or relative who has fallen. The person may have slipped while walking or felt dizzy when standing up from a chair and fallen. Maybe you've fallen yourself. If you or an older person you know has fallen, you're not alone. More than one in three people age 65 years or older falls each year. The risk of falling and fall related problems rises with age.

PRETEST: Answer the following questions as best as you can. If you do not know the answers, that's okay, after this presentation you will be able to understand the information more, and answer these questions.

  1. Does at risk for falling increase or decrease with old age?
  2. What is the most serious type of fall fracture? Hip, Elbow, or Jaw.
  3. Falls usually happen because of one risk factor or multiple risk factors?

Causes

Falls don't "just happen," and people don't fall because they got older. Often, more than one underlying causes of risk factor is involved in a fall. A risk factor is something that increases a person's risk or susceptibility to a medical problem or disease. As the number of risk factors rises, so does the risk of falling. Many falls are linked to a person's physical condition or a medical problem, such as chronic disease. Other causes could be safety hazards in a person's home or community environment.

Risk Factors

  • Muscle weakness
  • Balance and Gait (how you walk)
  • Blood pressure that drop when you get up (orthostatic hypotension)
  • Dizzy when arising
  • Slower reflexes
  • Foot problems
  • Unsafe footwear
  • Sensory problems
  • Poor vision
  • Confusion
  • Some medications side effects
  • A lot of medications

So what if I fall, I get back up and move on...

Although the fall could be nothing it is very important to be sure to talk to your doctor if you fall. A fall could be a sign of a new medical problem that needs attention, such as an infection or a cardiovascular disorder. It could also suggest that a treatment for a chronic ailment, such as Parkinson's disease or dementia, needs to be changed.

Where do most older adults fall?

Although falls can happen anywhere, well over half of all falls happen at home. Falls at home often happen while a person is doing normal daily activities. Some of these falls are causes by factors in the person's living environment. For instance, a slick flood or a poorly lit stairway may lead to a fall. Other factors are: loose rugs, clutter, carrying items, not having railing, and not having grab bars in the bathroom.

Make Personal Changes

Many falls result from personal or lifestyle factors that can be changes. Your doctor can assess your risk of falling and suggest ways to prevent falls. Also, make sure you let your doctor know if you've have fallen, or almost fallen.

Here are some changes that you can make: be physically active, have your medicine reviewed, limit alcohol, have your blood pressure checked when lying and standing, get a vision check up, and choose safe footwear

Be Physically Active

  • First line of defense
  • Keep muscles strong
  • Improve balance and gait
  • Mild weight-bearing exercise- which may slow bone loss

Have Medications Reviewed

  • Find out possible side effects
  • Possible interactions
  • Bring your prescribed and over the counted medicines, along with vitamins, minerals, and herbal products
  • Never stop taking medications unless you talk to a doctor first

Limit Alcohol Use

  • Can effect balance and reflexes

Vision Check-Up

  • Even small chances in sight can make you less stable
  • Have vision checked regularly, or if you think it has changed

Choose Safe Footwear

  • Our feet have nerves that help us judge the position of our bodies
  • Feet need to be in touch with the ground, and need to stay securely with the foot as we take each step
  • Wear sensible, low-heeled shoes that fit well and support your feet
  • Shoes should completely surround your feet
  • Non slipsoles

Fall Proof Your Home

  • Remove clutter
  • Arrange furniture to give you plenty of room to walk freely
  • Be sure that carpets are secured to the flood and stairs
  • Put non-slip strips on floors and steps
  • Try to avoid wet floors and clean up spills right away
  • Avoid going outside alone or on the ice or snow
  • Have adequate lighting
  • Place a lamp near but and use nightlight
  • Have handrails on stairs and walkways
  • Use grab bars in tub, shower, and toilet
  • Rearrange often used items to make them more accessible

Devices to Prevent Falls

Appropriate use of assistive devices can prevent harmful falls. These devices may include canes, walkers, and reachers. A physical or occupational therapist can help you decide which devices might be helpful and teach you how to use them safely. Talk with your doctor about having a physical therapist or occupational therapist assess your device needs.

Post Test

  1. Does at risk for falling increase or decrease with old age?
  2. What is the most serious type of fall fracture? Hip, Elbow, or Jaw.
  3. Falls usually happen because of one risk factor or multiple risk factors?

Sources

  • https://nihseniorhealth.gov/falls/aboutfalls/01.html
  • https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/

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