Approaches to Prevent Seniors from Falling
Many seniors and their family members worry about falls, and there is good reason for it, according to 5 Star Home Care Owner, Kenny Hidgon. It is estimated by the Center for Disease Control that 1 in 3 seniors falls at least one per year. Even if a fall does not result in injury, it is still a scary experience for the individual and their family.
That is why it is important for seniors to be screened to determine if they are high fall risk, and to understand how to prevent falls.
The following approaches are proven to help reduce senior fall risk:
Review All Medications
Certain types of medicines, both prescription and OTC, can increase a senior’s risk of falling. These include sedatives and tranquilizers, antipsychotics, OTC sleep aids such as Nyquil, and any other type of medicine that may cause drowsiness.
These medicines are actually listed by the American Geriatrics Society’s as “Medications that Older Adults Should Avoid or Use with Caution.” If a loved one is taking any of these, it is a very good idea to schedule time to speak with their doctor to review their medicines.
Keep Track of Blood Pressure
Regularly checking blood pressure is important, but it should also be checked while sitting and standing. Postural hypotension is a common condition in seniors, causing the blood pressure to drop substantially when moving from a seated to standing position. It can cause dizziness, lead to falls, and can be worsened by medications that lower blood pressure.
Keeping a blood pressure cuff at home is recommended, in order to track these occurrences and speak with the doctor about them.
Evaluate Gait & Balance
Observing a senior while getting up and walking can help determine if they are unsteady and in need of a formal evaluation. These evaluations are done by a physical therapist, and can help determine if a loved one needs specific exercises, a walker, a can, etc. to help improve and strengthen balance.
Home Evaluation & Modifications
Checking the home for hazards that may lead to falls is a safety evaluation that can be performed by following a checklist or by a certified occupational therapist.
There are times when these evaluations are covered by Medicare, and they may also be available through the local Area Agency on Aging.
Daily Vitamin D Intake
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force as well as the American Geriatrics Society recommend that seniors take 1000 IU of vitamin D per day. Research has found that taking this supplement can help reduce falls, and it is also cost effective and easy to manage.
Being proactive about these approaches can help your loved one receive the best preventative care in order to help prevent falls. Make sure to speak with the doctor about them, as each individual’s needs vary.