Falls and the Older Adult
One in four people over the age of 65, living at home, will fall during the next year. Injuries resulting from falls are the sixth leading cause of death among the elderly. Consequences of falls in addition to physical injuries can include decreased mobility, increased fear of falling, and increased isolation.
What are some common risk factors for falls and are you at risk?
- Decreased strength - Do you have difficulty getting up from chairs or difficulty standing long enough to complete daily activities? If so, you may be at a higher risk for falls.
- Changes in vision and hearing - Do your glasses fit well? Have you had your vision checked within the last year? How are your hearing aides working? Do they fit well?
- Changes in mental functioning - Do you have increased forgetfulness such as leaving a burner on, forgetting where you put an item, forgetting conversations with other people? If so, you may be at a higher risk of falls.
- Certain medical conditions - Do you have Parkinson's disease, diabetes, history of strokes, or multiple sclerosis? If so, you may be at a higher risk for falls.
- Medications - Are you taking medications that may cause drowsiness or dizziness, affect your blood pressure, or create an increased need to urinate? These medications may contribute to falls.
- Environment - Do you have poor lighting, throw rugs or uneven carpet, stairs or railings that need repair, low chairs, and narrow and/or cluttered pathways? If so, these may be hazards that can cause falls. Would grab bars or other equipment increase your safety in the bathroom?
What can you do to reduce your risk of falls?
- Maintain your strength by participating in some level of exercise two to three times per week. Exercising with another person is often helpful to keep you motivated.
- Eat well-balanced, nutritious meals and drink plenty of water.
- Have your vision checked regularly. If you use hearing aides, make sure that they fit properly.
- Make sure your nurse or physician is aware of all of the medications that you are taking to ensure appropriate dosage and prevent negative side effects. Talk with your nurse or physician about any side effects you may be experiencing.
- Recognize barriers around your home and take steps to manage them.