Fall Prevention for Older Adults
Did you know that falls are the leading cause of fractures and spinal cord injuries in the senior population and one of the leading causes of death? One in three adults over 65 experiences a fall at least once a year. An important part of preserving an older adult’s health, well-being and independence is fall prevention.
Some of the many factors that increase an individual’s risk of fall are:
- History of past falls
- Taking five or more medications (especially those for blood pressure, COPD, or over-the-counter sedatives)
- Incontinence or urinary urgency
- Decreased strength and function of the balance systems
- Cognitive changes
- Visual impairments
On a brighter note, falls are not a normal part of aging and can be prevented when seniors are armed with the right information and tools. The key to preventing falls is to remember to involve all of the members of the health-care team:
- Primary Care Physicians can check for adverse medication reactions or interactions, treat incontinence and refer to a specialist if needed.
- Physical Therapists can perform a thorough evaluation to test strength, range of motion, function of the inner ear, sensation, body awareness, postural and balance reactions, and cognition and safety awareness. They can develop a plan of care specified to the senior’s impairments and daily needs in order to lower his or her risk of falling.
- Optometrists can correct visual impairments, prescribe lenses that are not tint-changing and refer to a low-vision specialist if necessary.
To prevent falls, seniors should:
- Purchase well-fitting footwear with flexible non-skid soles
- Make a clear pathway through their homes
- Remove clutter, throw rugs and wires from floors
- Increase lighting
- Install handrails and grab bars.
The staff at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network’s more than 20 outpatient locations can work with senior citizens to perform a fall risk assessment and develop a plan of care to prevent falls.
For more information, call 1-888-44-REHAB (73422) or contact us.