Falls in the Elderly: Deadly But Preventable

Here are steps you can take to reduce your risk.

About 1 in 3 seniors over age 65 experience a fall over the course of a year.

By Ronan Factora, M.D.
One sentinel event often overlooked in aging individuals is a fall. About 1 in 3 individuals who are over the age of 65 will experience a fall in one year. Individuals in this age range who fall and fracture their hip have a 25 to 30 percent chance of dying after one year. Additionally, these individuals often cannot regain their prior level of functional independence. Falls are the most common reason for nursing home placement.
Given the problems associated with falls, the American Geriatrics Society recommends any individual age 65 or older be evaluated if he or she has a fall or complains of difficulty with balance. This evaluation is meant to prevent the next fall or a fall related to balance difficulty. Both of these problems typically have multiple contributing factors. Factors may include problems with vision (cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic eye changes and glaucoma are the most commonly encountered problems in this population), uncontrolled pain (due to arthritis, particularly in the back, hips or knees), muscle weakness (often related to prolonged periods of inactivity), medications (risk of falls increases with the number of medications an individual takes; lightheadedness, particularly when getting up from laying down or seated, can be an indicator that blood pressure medications are too strong; psychotropic medications like antidepressants and antipsychotic medications all increase the danger of falls). By addressing these issues, the possibility of falls can be reduced.
There are some risk factors for falls, though, that cannot be changed. These include age-specific medical conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, peripheral neuropathy, prior fall and the need to use an assistive device to ambulate.
What should you expect from an evaluation with your doctor? You should be checked for orthostatic hypotension (a significant change in blood pressure when changing position from lying or sitting to standing, often associated with lightheadedness or dizziness occurring after the change in position that tends to go away), asked about pain that limits mobility, checked for muscle weakness (particularly in the lower extremities), checked for significant balance problems, watched by your physician while you walk to see if there are an abnormalities and asked about pain……
More: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2015/09/17/falls-in-the-elderly-deadly-but-preventable
Source: Health US News
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