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Fall Prevention for Older Adults
Falls are the leading cause of fractures and spinal cord injuries for seniors. One in three adults over age 65 will fall at least once a year. An important part of preserving an older adult’s health is fall prevention.
Factors that may increase someone’s risk for a fall include: age, 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 and environment.
Fortunately, falls are not a normal part of aging and can be prevented when seniors are armed with the right tools.
Ways to prevent falls:
Wear well-fitting footwear with flexible non-skid soles.
Make a clear pathway through the home.
Remove clutter, throw rugs and wires from floors.
Install handrails and grab bars.
“A patient’s health-care team should help develop a plan to prevent falls,” says Amanda Lucas, DPT, of Good Shepherd Physical Therapy at Sacred Heart Senior Living. “Primary care physicians can check for adverse medication reactions or interactions and treat incontinence, while optometrists and ophthalmologists can treat visual impairments. Physical therapists provide physical evaluations and create a plan of therapy specific to a senior’s impairments and daily needs.”