At-home checklist: Preventing falls
by: Lorne Blackbourne and Kristen Hullum- St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center
Health care officials recommend having your vision checked annually for common age-related changes like glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts.
Each year, the National Council on Aging recognizes Sept. 22 — the first day of fall — as National Fall Prevention Awareness Day. While everyone is at risk of tripping or stumbling, falls are one of the leading causes of injury and death among the elderly.
One in four adults age 65 or older fall every year, and 20 percent of those falls cause serious injury, such as broken bones or head trauma. It’s important to understand that this type of injury is not a normal part of aging, and preventive steps can be taken to reduce the risk of falls.
How do falls cause injury?
More than 700,000 patients are hospitalized each year due to injury from a fall. Falls may cause broken bones, including hip fractures or even head injuries. These can be especially serious among elderly adults who take medication, such as blood thinners, which may increase their chances of bleeding after injury.
The time needed to recover can feel long and difficult, often leading to a loss of independence. It may even require prolonged hospitalization or time in a rehabilitation or nursing care facility before it is deemed safe to return home. Immobility from extended bedrest also creates another set of potential complications, such as pneumonia or blood clots.
What factors can cause a fall?
Elderly adults are more likely to develop risk factors for falling, including difficulty with walking or balance; weakness in the lower body; vitamin D or calcium deficiencies, which may increase the chance of broken bones; use of certain medications, which can affect balance, cognition and alertness; problems with vision; and pain or numbness in the feet, which can make it difficult to step carefully……