Falls are not a normal part of aging!
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Falls are not a normal part of aging.
Additional facts about falls include:
- Falls are costly, especially among the age of 65 and older.
- Falls are preventable.
- Every second, every day, an older adult (age 65+) suffers a fall in the U.S.—making falls the leading cause of injury and injury death in this age group. 1
- Falls are a public health concern, particularly among the aging population.
- More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling—usually by falling sideways. 1
- Women fall more often than men and account for three-quarters of all hip fractures. 1
So, I know, you ask, “What can I do?” Next, we will discuss some “to do” items. For a complete and comprehensive plan, connect with me, and we can develop an individualized care plan.
To prevent falls:
- Use evidence (research) based tools like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC developed STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries) the initiative, including educational materials and tools to improve fall prevention.
- Understand risk factors or predictors such as visual impairments, urinary incontinence, and medications.
For visual impairments, encourage regular eye exams. If prescribed glasses, ensure that the glasses are always clean, accessible, and worn.
For urinary incontinence, encourage follow up with primary care doctors or urologist. Also, follow a schedule for toileting such as every 2-3 hours, wear incontinence, and wear pants that are easy to pull and down.
For medications, encourage follow up with primary care doctors or specialists to determine what medications are a risk of falls. Furthermore, take a diuretic (water pills) as early as possible during the day; this will reduce night falls while attempting to get to the bathroom.
Be aware that some medications cause a higher risk of falls, such as 2
- Use of at least four prescription medications
- Antidepressants (tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
- Antiparkinsonian drugs
- Antipsychotics (typical and atypical)
- Benzodiazepines (short- and long-acting)
- Nonbenzodiazepine, benzodiazepine receptor agonist hypnotics
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Sedatives and hypnotics
Many of the medications above are known to cause dizziness and sleepiness, leading to a fall.
- Overall, think of the risk factors as either physical, behavioral, and environmental.
Physical can include any changes in the body that increase the risk for a fall, as mentioned before, visual or urinary status changes. Also, think, balance issues, and muscle weakness.
Behavioral are things we do or don’t do that increase our falls risk. For example, if a patient is expected to use a walker but does not, they use the walls and furniture to support their walking and movement. Furniture walking is not safe and should never be done. If you see your loved one doing this, intervene quickly and connect with a healthcare professional, either their doctor or even a Certified Care Manager, such as myself.
Finally, environmental are those items that are hazards in the home. Some modifications can be as simple as removing area rugs and ensuring all dark areas have lights. Some modifications can be more complicated such as installing handrails or ramps to reduce falls when manipulating stairs. A significant modification would be in the bathroom, such as grab bars, high toilet seats, and walk-in showers.
To end, understanding the risk factors for falls and making a plan are critical factors for preventing falls. For additional supportive checklists, consider https://www.cdc.gov/steadi/pdf/check_for_safety_brochure-a.pdf and https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/pdf/older_adult_drivers/CDC-AdultMobilityTool-9.27.pdf.
Have a team-based approach to falls prevention!
If you are ready to have a comprehensive plan for yourself or your loved one, connect with me and I will be happy to help.
Thank you for reading!