September is National Falls Prevention Month. During this month, we will be bombarded with the scary statistics of fall risk among older Americans and an overwhelming amount of information about fall prevention. We, at Around the Clock Medical Alarms, understand wholeheartedly that a fall can change everything!
Medical Alarms in St. Louis MO: Senior Falls Prevention
Falls have become an epidemic in America. Falls are the leading cause of death due to injury for those over the age of 65. Falls account for 40% of all nursing home admissions. Falls are also the leading cause of injury-related emergency department visits for older adults, the major cause of hip fractures, and responsible for more than half of fatal head injuries. Approximately half of all seniors, who sustain a fall, DO NOT resume independent living. Let those scary statistics sink in….
People who fall become fearful about falling again — trapping them into a “fear of falling” cycle. Even subtle changes can lead to another fall, as bodies adjust to the new reality of a change in gait and speed. The family members of someone who has taken a fall find themselves a little more concerned. Sometimes, a family might take unnecessary actions such as making the individual move out of their own home to live in an apartment, with family, or an assisted living community. These “well-intended” solutions are not necessarily always “good” solutions.
What things can classify someone as an individual who’s a “fall risk?”
The Missouri Alliance for Home Care adapted the following list of 10 questions, which can be used as a screening tool to determine a person who is at risk. (All questions can be answered “yes” or “no.”)
1. Are you 65+?
2. Do you have three or more medical issues?
3. Are you taking four or more medications? Side effects from medications can sometimes increase your chance of falling. Did you know that anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, high blood pressure, blood sugar meds, sleep aides, mood altering medications, and narcotics can increase your risk of falling? Talk to your doctor or pharmacist, if you are using any types of medicines that could potentially cause you to fall.
4. Have you fallen in the past three months? — This includes having a “slip,” “trip,” or “near-fall,” where you were able to catch yourself prior to actually falling to the floor. People who are worried about falling are more likely to fall again. When you have the “fear of falling,” you are not as confident and steady on your feet. If you have had a fall, please speak to your doctor to make them aware of your concerns. Being fitted for an assistive device (cane, walker, etc.) by a professional could make all the difference in your confidence and mobility!
5. Are you having incontinence? (i.e. “leaking urine”). Rushing to the bathroom, especially at night, increases your chance of falling. To reduce the risk of falling, make sure to have adequate lighting, clear pathways, and allow plant of time to make the trip.
6. Are you having memory problems?
7. Is your vision causing you trouble? Your eyes and ears are key to keeping you on your feet. Get your vision and hearing checked annually and update your eyeglasses.
8. Are there hazards in your home, such as cluttered pathways, poor lighting, or pets? Remove tripping hazards, increase lighting, make stairs safe and install grab bars in key areas.
9. Are you experiencing a decline in your ability to move around your home? Are you less independent? Do you need assistance with bathing, dressing, and/or preparing meals?
10. Does pain limit your ability to move around? If you are “furniture surfing,” you probably have poor balance. Needing to push yourself up to stand up is a sign of weak leg muscles, which is a major reason for falling. Talk to your doctor to see if they could prescribe therapy to help you build up your strength to prevent future falls.
If you answered “yes,” to four or more of the questions, then you are at risk for having a fall.
It is important to be aware that there are different things that can put you at risk for a fall. Some risks are more obvious than others — some are modifiable, while others are not.
We’ve all heard the famous quote by Benjamin Franklin, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If you or someone you know is falling, or is prone to fall, there are things that can be done to help prevent future falls.
For example, physical therapy can assist with pain management, which can be a big reason a senior will fall. In addition, therapy can help to keep you ambulatory to help maintain your independence. Finally, a therapist can work with you to improve your balance, strength, and range of motion, which can decrease the number of falls you could have.
One major goal for plenty of aging adults is to remain as independent as they can for as long as possible. Talk to your family members. Enlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe. Falls are not just a seniors’ issue. Talk to your health care provider. Ask for an assessment of your risk of falling. Share your history of recent falls. They cannot help, if they are not aware of the issues you are having.
A comprehensive home safety assessment performed by a trained specialist, along with some low-cost “home modifications,” — such as grab bars, changing door handles to the lever kind, building ramps, or updating the kitchen to make things more easily accessible — can serve to effectively reduce falls and fall-related injury for older adults.
We all know that not all falls can be prevented. IF you have modified your home, completed a physical therapy regime, and you are still falling, or have the fear of falling, a medic alert system might be the next thing to consider. Although a help button will not prevent a fall, it will get help if/when a fall happens. Do not become the statistic of someone who has an accidental fall and lays there for hours or days….
The mission of Around the Clock Medical Alarms is to provide a medical alarm service to the elderly and ill that will enable them to remain independent in their home – as safely as possible.
Call us at 573-334-7233 or visit online AroundTheClockMedicalAlarms.com to discuss how we can help you too!