February 23rd, 2012
Fall Awareness in February
Depending on your age the result of a fall can have very different consequences. Anyone can trip on a rug, toy or lose their balance on the ice resulting in a fall. When we are young falls are infrequent and usually just an annoyance. This is not the case as we age.
The incidence of falls and potential for injury from a fall increases greatly with age. Natural changes and deterioration in the muscular, neurological and sensory systems of the body contribute to this risk. An increase in incidence of medical conditions as we age such as diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis (frail bones), anemia or dementia all increase the risk of a fall or injury from a fall. Additionally due to these body changes and medical diagnosis, medications are prescribed and you guessed it, they increase the risk of a fall or potential injury.
30-40% of those individuals over 65 have fallen in the last year; the rate goes up to 50% if over 80 years of age and after 1 fall you are at a 40% chance of falling again in the same year. Types of injury from a fall when older can include a small bruise or skin tear, to a very serious hip fracture or brain bleed or even death. The majority of injuries treated in the emergency room for those over the age of 65 are due to falls.
A fall is no longer an inconvenient occurrence as when we were young but a potentially life changing event. As an older person we often do not get up and move on after a fall. We now may not fully regain our independence, be displaced from our home, need surgery for a hip fracture or worse. At minimum we will be afraid of falling again and that alone changes everyday life.
So now that I have your attention and you know a fall can be serious…What can you do, or your loved one’s do, to help decrease risk of fall or injury from a fall?
- Eliminate throw rugs (though they may add to the aesthetics of your home… they are a fall waiting to happen).
- Decrease clutter in the home, eliminate unneeded furniture, clean up cords, have a dedicated mail area that is routinely cleared.
- Illuminate walkways for night time (vision and ability to adjust to changes in light decrease with age)
- Have your doctor review your medications (can any be eliminated or changed to decrease risk of fall?)
- If you have a fall even without an injury notify the facility nurse or your practitioner right away (perhaps an adjustment needs to be made in your treatment plan)
- Use your assistive device (walker, cane) as prescribed by your doctor or physical therapist.
- Call for help if you are feeling dizzy or under the weather (better to be safe).
- Go to facility exercise to help increase muscle tone and balance (if you don’t use it you lose it is not just a saying)
- Consider bars and handles in your bathroom to help maintain balance (many serious injuries from falls occur in the bathroom).
- Invest in a good pair of shoes, (no slippery soles or heels, they may not be as fashionable but are worth your safety).
These are a few things you can do, most are inexpensive and do not take too much time or effort but they can save you much down the line.
Take care and be safe out there.
Sara Berg-McConville, CNP
Bluestone Physician Services provides on-site medical care to residents in all Lang Nelson assisted living facilities. We are committed to working closely with the community staff, patients and their loved ones to customize care plans for our patients. To learn more about Bluestone Physician Services, please visit our website www.bluestonemd.com, call our office at 651-342-1039, contact any one of Below Lang Nelson Assisted Living Communities, or feel free to contact the Lang Nelson Nurse Liaison Kathy Anderson RN at 952-697-4642, 612-889-9420, or Kathy@lanel.com.
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