This is something that comes up quite frequently in conversations with our clients – so, we wanted to take a few moments to highlight a portion of the risk factors for increased falls.
Please take a few moments to think through the factors below involving those for whom you care:
– Lower extremity weakness/numbness – a lack of muscular strength due to lack of physical activity or atrophy – spinal issues, nerve damage (such as with neuropathy), or potential brain injury
– Leg/Foot pain or poor choices of footwear – poor care of feet/toenails, sciatic nerve pain, existing wounds or infections, and footwear with slick bottoms, high heels, or that are ill-fitting (also check houseshoes or soft socks without grips)
– Vision issues – medical issues with the eye (such as cataracts or macular degeneration), incorrect eyewear or incorrect prescription for glasses, or medical complications such as the loss of peripheral vision with dementia progression
– Certain medications can affect balance, increase drowsiness, and increase confusion – speak to their doctor and pharmacist about risks and potential side effects and drug interactions for all medications including over-the-counter, vitamins, and herbals
– Use of alcohol or drugs – May seem obvious, but rarely discussed. With the normal changes in liver functioning as one ages, a lower level of alcohol can have increased effects. This is also complicated by medications, slowed metabolic functioning, dehydration risks, and potential balance concerns, etc.
– Use of the wrong equipment or need for more care – Safe to use the rollator just purchased? Upgrade needed from a cane to a walker? Need a shower chair or bench? This is often best evaluated through one’s physician – as well as physical and occupational therapists – which can be through services such as Home Health or privately hired for objective assessment. Does your loved one need more help or oversight regarding their own safety or their activities of daily living?
– Risks within their environment – Please see this month’s newsletter for more information on this topic! It will be important to assess risks both in and out of the home – especially with a change of environment (such as going to another home for the holidays).
– A variety of medical conditions and causes – conditions such as Blood Pressure concerns, delirium caused by a UTI, uncontrolled diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, incontinence issues, brain tumors, etc.
A full assessment by the primary care physician, neurologist, and consultation with specialists may be necessary (such as with an Aging Life Care™ Manager for a long-view plan to assess and best prevent falls).
We find that most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors – and it is best to be as proactive as possible to reduce risks after the first fall (and preferably even before that first one)! Frequent observations and changes by individuals and their caregivers when necessary within all the above categories can help over time to reduce one’s risk.
Wishing the best to you and yours! Lisa