Slips and falls are common among Older Adults. About one in four Americans 65 and over fall at least once per year. Certain factors create a higher risk such as Diabetes, Arthritis, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. Low blood pressure, poor vision, and weak muscles also play a role. Plus, falls are more likely at night when the light is dim which can then end up causing bruising, broken bones, head injury, and even death. If you are concerned that a loved one may be prone to falling, talk to their health care provider about a Fall Risk Assessment.
What is a Fall Risk Assessment?
A doctor can evaluate if a Senior Citizen is prone to slips and falls. The initial screening is a set of questions about overall health and history of balance issues. Next, the patient performs a set of tasks that tests strength, balance, and gait. The screening tool indicates a low, moderate, or high risk of falling. After the assessment, their doctor may recommend strategies to reduce the chance of injury.
What Will Happen During the Screening?
During a Fall Risk Assessment, the provider asks questions regarding medical history and previous falls. Questions may include:
- Have you fallen more than once in the past 6 months?
- Do you feel unsteady when standing or walking?
- Do you worry about falling?
- What medications are you currently taking?
- Do you have incontinence or a frequent urge to use the bathroom?
Following the questions, the doctor will conduct a series of physical tests.
- Timed Up-and-Go: Starting in a chair, the patient stands and walks about ten feet before sitting down again. The provider will observe the gait and time how long it takes. A time of 12 or more seconds means a higher risk for falls.
- Chair Stand Test: The provider counts how many times the patient can stand and sit down again in 30 seconds. A lower number indicates an increased risk of falling.
- Balance Test: The patient holds different positions with increasing difficulty. Start with standing with feet side-by-side. Then, feet together with the instep of one touching the big toe of the other. Next, one foot in front of the other. Finally, standing on one foot. Failing to hold a position for 10 seconds signals increased fall risk.
Your loved one’s health care provider would then suggest fall prevention strategies to help reduce those risk factors. Those strategies could include physical and/or occupational therapy, possible changes to medications, or advise the use of assistive devices such as a cane or walker.
Slips and falls become more common with increased age. At Anita’s Angels Inc., we are here to help Senior Citizens age-in-place safely. We are Families Helping Families. Let’s talk about what our family can do for yours—call us at 908-788-9390.