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Understanding Fall Risk

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

There are many factors that can be explored to prevent the risk of falling. Being aware of the risk factors can prevent injury caused by a fall. There are many reasons for a fall, but taking simple precautions can prevent a catastrophe.

Elderly people who regularly exercise are less likely to fall. Regular exercise helps seniors maintain muscle mass which aids in keeping balance, strength, and endurance. Walking regularly is a great exercise for seniors. Using the proper footwear will not only give balance but also stability. Wearing proper footwear is essential; a firm, non-slip shoe or sneaker will add stability to the gait while walking. If there are foot problems which are causing pain, see a podiatrist to review a plan to alleviate problems.

Postural hypotension, which is a drop in blood pressure upon sitting or standing, can cause a fall. By taking a moment to sit up before standing, dizziness can be prevented. Many medications and illnesses can cause postural hypotension. Also, taking four or more prescription drugs puts people at greater risk for falls. Make a list of prescription and over-the-counter medications and have a healthcare professional review them for fall risk. Have a talk with your doctor about medicines that may cause an issue and see what changes can be made.

Not seeing well can also result in falls. As we age our eyes may take a while adjust to darkness and light, causing imbalance for a moment. Other vision problems contributing to falls include cataracts, poor depth perception, and glaucoma. An eye doctor can perform a complete exam and suggest corrective measures which could be as simple as a pair of glasses.

Clear trip hazards from the home. Clutter, area rugs, and nonessential furniture can be removed to make navigation around the home easier and safer.

Unfortunately, seniors have a reason to be concerned about losing ground: Each year the CDC estimates that one in every three people over age 65 will experience a fall.  For older people who live at home or in the community, 59% of falls are due to physical or medical conditions, while other common causes include accidents or tripping over obstacles. Knowing the risks and taking steps to correct them will keep every step you make safer.

Staff Writer, Deirdre Conboy-Mariotti, RN BSN