Fall Prevention

Local pharmacists talk about how to decrease the risk of falling.

 

By Julie Acosta and Tara Storjohann

Question: My friend’s mom recently fell and went to the hospital with a broken hip. Now I’m worried about my elderly parents. What can they do to prevent falling?

Answer: Unfortunately, fall rates are increasing in older adults. The good news, there are ways to help your parents prevent falls but first it’s important to understand what can increase someone’s risk for falling.  

Continue reading for more details and go to the following website for STEADI materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: cdc.gov/steadi/patient.html.

 

What can increase someone’s risk for falling?

2  Environment: Common household items may cause falls like throw rugs, clutter, dimly lit rooms, or uneven steps. Also, vision problems, which may include wearing old prescription glasses, glaucoma, or cataracts, can lead to falls.

2  Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions may increase someone’s risk for falling. Some common ones include arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease, vertigo, brain or mood disorders, urinary incontinence (numerous trips to the bathroom), and/or dehydration. Additionally, several over-the-counter and prescription medications may increase the likelihood of falls. These are listed in the table provided.  

2  Improper Footwear: Sandals, high heels, flip-flops, or shoes that do not fit properly can cause imbalance or foot pain/discomfort and increase someone’s risk for falling.  

 

What can happen after a fall?

A fall can just cause mild pain for some but for others it could land them in the hospital or a long-term care facility. About one in every five falls results in a serious head injury or broken bone, so it’s important to seek medical attention if someone falls and hits his or her head, especially if they are on a blood thinner. After a fall some people have a fear of falling, which may lead to cutting back on everyday activities. Unfortunately, this may result in decreased muscle mass and balance, which can ultimately place them at higher risk for falls.

 

What can be done to help prevent falls?

Help prevent falls by talking openly with your healthcare provider about fall risks and prevention. Be sure to have your vision screened annually and update your glasses as needed. Also, increase activities that strengthen legs and help with balance (Tai Chi, yoga, and dance). If needed, canes, walkers, or wheelchairs should be used to assist with balance. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist about your vitamin D and calcium intake to ensure you are getting enough to keep your bones strong. Finally, wear properly fitting shoes, increase lighting in your home, remove loose rugs, and fix uneven or cracked sidewalks. Last but not least, review your medications with your healthcare provider and pharmacist to ensure you are not on any unnecessary medications that could increase your risk for falling.

For more details go to the following website for STEADI materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: cdc.gov/steadi/patient.html

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