Mistake #5 – Disregarding the serious risk of a fall

The Problem:

Most seniors are unaware of the high risk of falling that occurs with age.  Actually, one out of three people 65 years and older falls every year.  Falls are also the leading cause of injury deaths among people 65 years old and older.  Falls account for 87% of fractures for people 65 and older, and are the second leading cause of spinal cord and head injury in older adults.  Hip fractures cause the greatest number of deaths from falls annually, and half of people who fracture a hip are unable to return home.  Sixty percent of falls happen at home, 30% occur in public, and 10% happen in health care institutions.

The Solution:

Minimizing the risk of falling is an important consideration for older adults.  Some of the things older adults can do to decrease their risk include:

  • Maintaining a regular exercise program, which increases strength, balance, and coordination.
  • Making living areas safer by removing throw rugs, increasing lighting, using non-slip mats in the bathroom, having rails on all stairs (in and outdoors), having rails in the tub and shower.
  • Asking doctor to review medications to make sure that drugs are not causing dizziness and other side effects.
  • Having an annual eye examination, as impaired vision is a major factor in falling.
  • If balance is impaired or a fall has occurred, visiting a specialized fall prevention center for complete evaluation.

Identifying risk factors is the first step in eliminating or reducing falls.  The geriatric care managers at Matrix AdvoCare Network make assessing a senior’s risk for falls a part of every home healthcare evaluation.