Falls are a common occurrence among the elderly population, with more than one in four older adults experiencing a fall each year.
It is estimated that almost half of all adults who fall do not tell their primary care provider, often due to embarrassment or the assumption that falls are expected with aging. Understanding who is most at risk for falls and how to avoid them can help prevent bruising, broken bones, head injuries or internal bleeding – all of which can be life-threatening.
The American Geriatrics Society and the American Academy of Family Physicians identify adults older than 65 years old, anyone with a history of falls, weak leg muscles, or concerns with vision, walking or balance to be at risk for falls.
To prevent falls, it is important to give careful consideration to the possible causes.
- Medications may have side effects like dizziness or drowsiness, which may increase your risk of falls. It is recommended that patients review all their medications with their doctor during their routine visits.
- To avoid feeling lightheaded or weak, doctors recommend getting up slowly after lying down or sitting after prolonged periods.
- If you use a cane or walker, learn how to use it correctly and be sure to keep it within reach.
- Falls commonly occur when trying to reach items on high shelves. It is recommended to move hard-to-reach items to lower shelves, use a step stool or ask for assistance.
- Bathrooms are common places for falls. Installing handrails and bath seats are recommended to minimize risk.
Falls may also be caused by tripping over items. To improve the safety of your environment, it is recommended to:
- Remove obstacles that may be in the way of walking, which include small objects
- Consider rearranging furniture to maximize visible floor space
- Rugs should be removed or secured to the floor using double-sided tape or nonslip backing.
- De-clutter cords or wires
- Turn on lights in hallways or stairways, or use a night light
If you live alone, you may benefit from a personal emergency response system to immediately alert emergency responders of falls or injuries. Examples include medical alert bracelets and necklaces.
If a fall does occur, notify your doctor and seek an evaluation to review the cause of the fall and identify any injuries. Even if you were not hurt, it is important to report falls to prevent a recurrence. To speak with a Family Medicine doctor about fall risks and prevention, please call (718) 206-6942.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.