Assessing fall risks for seniors:
Seniors and their families are often worried about falls and how to prevent them. There is good reason to become aware of these risks and how to decrease the likelihood of falling. The Center for Disease Control has estimated that one in three seniors falls at least once a year. Those falls lead to millions of emergency room visits and many hospitalizations. For this reason, it is recommended that seniors be screened for high fall risk, and also offered help for preventing falls. Here are some things that can be done to decrease your risk of falling.
Have your medications reviewed. There are some types of medications that are acknowledged as adding to the risk of falls in seniors. These include sedatives and tranquilizers, antipsychotics, drugs for sleep, and any drugs that cause drowsiness as a side affect. Just be sure you don’t stop taking a medication without talking to your doctor, but do schedule a medication review, and then make adjustments that your doctor recommends.
You can have a gait and balance evaluation done. You can be referred by your doctor to a physical therapist for an evaluation, but often you will need to ask your doctor for the referral. If needed, a physical therapist can teach strength and balance exercises to help with any problems that are observed. She can also recommend a cane or walker if that is necessary.
You might want to get a home safety assessment. This can be done by an occupational therapist, again with a referral from your doctor. The OT can suggest some modifications that can be done in your home that will reduce your risk of falling at home.
Falls in seniors can be frightening and dangerous. Understanding that there are things you can do to really reduce the chances of falling can be very empowering. Remember, you may have to ask your doctor for these helpful strategies, but they are well worth the time and effort.
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