|The CDC estimates 1 in 3 seniors fall at least once a year.|
Many seniors and their families are concerned about falling. Studies indicate there is a good reason for this worry. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 1 in 3 seniors fall at least once a year. These falls tend to be serious and lead to millions of emergency room visits and hospitalizations. Further studies show when seniors do fall and have to be admitted to a hospital a large percentage are not able to return directly home and must be admitted to a care center. In addition, a large number of these seniors are never able to live independently again.
Geriatricians have long recognized this risk and work with their patients to reduce the risk of falling. A geriatrician is a doctor who specializes in care for people 65 and older. Geriatricians will approach each patient's needs individually, and they possess the knowledge and expertise needed to accommodate seniors.While geriatricians treat physical problem most of these doctors understand this includes: recognizing how health conditions affect seniors socially and emotionally, and vice versa. To address the real problem of falling there are proven approaches Geriatricians use to prevent falls.These approaches can be done in numerous settings. Here are five of the approaches to help reduce falling.
- Geriatricians will do a medication review. There are many different medications which can pose a fall risk for seniors. These can include but are not limited to: sedatives and tranquilizers, antipsychotics, over-the-counter sleep or night-time drugs, antihistamines and certain types of drugs for an overactive bladder, vertigo, nausea, nerve pain, and depression. If you are caring for a senior who takes any of these types of drugs it is critical not to stop the drug but instead ask for a medication review on a regular basis, in order to make sure the medications he or she is taking are not contributing to a fall risk.
- Geriatricians will check blood pressure both sitting and standing. It is important to understand blood pressure drops when you stand or change positions. This is especially important to know for seniors since many of them have high blood pressure. Since changing blood pressure can cause a feeling of lightheadedness which can contribute to falls it is extremely important the senior have their blood pressure monitored on a regular basis.
- Geriatricians will do a gait and balance evaluation. Most Geriatricians will at a minimum observe their patients walking to and away from them while they are in the office. If unsteadiness is observed the doctor may recommend the senior have a gait and balance evaluation. These are done by physical therapy and are covered by Medicare when ordered by a physician. The physical therapist can then recommend certain exercises to help improve balance and may even suggest a walker or cane for added stability.
- Geriatricians will suggest a home safety assessment and possible modifications. This is a step which can be taken on your own. Inspecting the senior’s residence for potential fall risks can go a long way toward reducing them. Installing proper lighting, adding bed rails and handrails in the bathroom can help a senior feel more secure when getting up and down (especially at night). Furniture can be moved to create easy walkways and rugs can be secured. A professional occupational therapist can also make recommendations about what products can be used to make your bedroom, bathroom and car safer.
- Geriatricians will test for low Vitamin D levels. There are some studies which indicate low levels of Vitamin D can contribute to falls. If you are concerned about this have your senior’s doctor check their level of Vitamin D with a simple blood test to see if additional supplementation is necessary.
The Caregiver Partnership understands the real risks seniors face when it comes to falling. To help reduce the risk of falling we offer several products that can easily be installed in any home and can give seniors added security and peace of mind. If you are unsure as to what will work for you or the senior in your care we have knowledgeable Product Specialists you can speak with when you call 1-800-985-1353.
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