Did you know that about 33% of seniors living at home and 60% of older people living in nursing homes fall at least once each year? Unfortunately, falls are associated with serious health complications, including head injuries, fractures, and prolonged hospitalization.
The good news is that a simple fall risk assessment by our medical team at Beth and Howard Braver, MD, helps prevent falls and the associated injuries. We offer comprehensive geriatric care with a variety of services to help keep seniors well and independent.
If you or someone you love is 65 or older, keep reading to learn what’s involved in a fall risk assessment and why it’s so important.
What’s involved with a fall risk assessment?
As part of your wellness exam, we give you a simple screening to evaluate your risk of falling. The exam usually consists of two parts: an initial screening with questions followed by a physical screening with different tasks.
During the initial screening, we ask you questions related to your health history and current overall health. We discuss any previous falls with you and whether you have trouble with balance, walking, and standing.
Once you’ve discussed the fall-related questions, we use fall assessment tools to test your risk of falling. This involves having you complete a set of tasks that test your balance, the way you walk, and your strength.
While the specific tasks may vary, some of the tasks we ask you to perform include:
- Going from standing to sitting multiple times in a row to test your strength
- Standing on one leg with your arms crossed, while we time how long you can hold your balance without moving your raised leg or arms
- Going from a seated position to a set location, then return back to the starting (seated) position, while we time you
Based on the results of your screening, we may give you a personalized set of recommendations and strategies to prevent future falls and reduce your risk of serious injury.
Why is getting this assessment important for seniors?
There’s a good reason the American Geriatric Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both recommend annual fall risk assessments for all adults age 65 and older.
For example, complications associated with a fall account for 70% of accidental deaths among American adults ages 75 or older, and more than 95% of hip fractures are the result of accidental falls.
A fall risk assessment lowers your risk by giving you the tools needed to improve your strength, balance, and gait.
And for some patients, the risk is higher due to certain factors, including underlying health conditions, which contribute to accidental falls. These factors include:
- Existing difficulty with balance and walking
- Taking certain medications (e.g., antidepressants, anti-anxiety tranquilizers, sedatives)
- Having vision problems
- Having a vitamin D deficiency
- Regularly experiencing light-headedness, dizziness, or irregular heartbeats
- Lacking strength in your lower body
- Wearing certain shoes (e.g., heels, open-back sandals)
- Having foot pain
Depending on your results from the fall risk assessment, we may make changes to your current medications, encourage you to take supplements like vitamin D, make recommendations about the shoes you wear, and discuss correcting any potential fall hazards in your home.
Do you want more information about fall risk assessments and other geriatric care? Contact our Aventura or Hollywood, Florida, office today to schedule your exam.