A quarter of adults over the age of 65 fall each year. For many, falling is the beginning of a downward spiral. A fall can lead to a significant injury that can cause permanent issues.
Luckily, falling doesn’t have to be a normal part of aging. Home health care can help elders avoid falling with a variety of preventative measures:
- Exercise programs that increases balance and strength.
- Knowing and managing the side effects of medications.
- Checking their house for possible hazards.
- Regularly assessing and modifying daily routines.
- Annual hearing and vision tests.
- Aiding in daily activities and household chores.
While these are all important, asking your patients these six questions that could predict future falls will give you a better idea of what to watch for.
Have you fallen in the last year?
If your patient has fallen in the last year, they’re at a higher risk of falling again. They might also be overly cautious now. Falling causes many elders to become fearful of falling again, so they limit their activities. By not remaining active, their muscles can deteriorate and cause them to become unbalanced.
Have you almost fallen in the last year?
Many elders think if they aren’t injured they didn’t fall. This isn’t true. Tripping or becoming unbalanced and leaning on another surface for support is still considered a fall. If your patient says they have stumbled in the last year, ask detailed questions. Did they trip on something? Did they stand up too fast? What broke their fall?
Are you worried about falling?
If your patient is worried about falling, chances are they’ve stopped doing things they enjoy to be safe. Inactivity can cause quick mental and physical deterioration. This is especially dangerous for elders because they can become isolated, which can lead to depression.
Are you taking any medications?
Certain medications can cause dizziness and difficulty balancing. Know all the medications they’re taking, and what dosage. Ask how the medication makes them feel. Are there alternatives that won’t affect their stability?
What are your goals?
Just because your patient is older doesn’t mean they don’t have goals of their own. Ask them what they want to be able to accomplish. Maybe they want to garden, go on a walk or cook…but don’t want to risk falling. While they might need assistance, you can work with them to reach their goals. Being able to live the life they want will help them maintain their independence.
Do you have any sustained injuries?
Injuries can cause your patients to modify the way they move to avoid pain. This can also increase their risk of falling. Ask them if they have any injuries. If they are experiencing pain in specific areas. Knowing if they are injured or enduring pain can help you modify their routine to reduce their risk of falling.
Asking these questions can help you reduce your patient’s risk of falling.