Why fall prevention is so important ? Fall-related injuries are very common in senior population, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention :
* One in four Americans aged 65+ falls each year.
* An older adult is treated in the ER due to a fall injury every 11 seconds.
* Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
Therefore, fall prevention become an essential part of health care for the well-being of older population, bellow we will share six important tips for preventing falls:
1. Fall Risk Assessment
Even before the assessment, it is critical that you have optimal communication with your care givers, family members and medical providers.
“Always talk about your fall incident even it didn’t cause any injury!”
Also, please don’t hesitate to express your concerns of falling, so the healthcare professionals can help to implement the fall risk assessment. Which includes but not limited to:
* Medical history:
Most importantly, the history and cause of previous falls.
Chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease, Stroke, Diabetes, Knee Osteoarthritis and Dementia can all greatly increase the risk of falls.
* Physical examination:
Make sure to measure the blood pressure in different postures, such as lying, sitting and standing to rule out orthostatic hypotension.
It is also essential to test your balance, such as 4-Stage Balance Test.
Regularly consult with your doctor or pharmacist to review all the side effects of your medication. Closely monitor if the side effect is increasing the risk of falls!
3. Vision & Hearing
Annual vision and hearing examination is one of the key step for fall prevention! Healthy eyes and ears are critical for optimal balance.
* Heels that are 1 inch (1.6 centimeters) or lower.
* Thin and hard soles.
* An angled heel to prevent slipping.
* A supported heel collar grips your heel firmly.
5. Balance & Exercises
I. Marching: Start with 30 seconds marching, make sure to raise your knee up to waist level. 3 times a day, can gradually increase to 1 minute.
II. Side Leg Raise: Raise each side of your leg alternatively, hold it for 10 seconds, make sure to keep you toe facing the front. 10 reps x 3 times a day.
III. Heel / Toe Raise: Raise your heels and hold for 10 seconds, then raise your toes for another 10 seconds, 10 reps x 3 times a day.
IV. One Leg Stand: Raise one leg and stand for 30 seconds, then the other leg for another 30 seconds. 3 times a day, can gradually increase to 1 minute.
V. Balance Walk: Walk on a straight line, 10 steps forward, then 10 steps backward. 3 times a day.
VI. Around the Clock: Use your toe to touch upper right/left and lower right/left corners. At least 5 seconds for each corner. 3 times a day.
6. Home Safety
Follow the checklist to make your home safe! Lot of fall incidents are preventable especially at home. Please refer to Home Modification for Fall Prevention for more details!
In summary, we should not underestimate the impact of falls, it can greatly compromise your physical and mental health. Most importantly, never hesitate to communicate your concerns and fall incidents with your loved ones or medical professionals. And don’t forget to follow these six fall prevention principles to ensure a better life!
1. National Council on Aging., Falls Prevention Facts. https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/falls-prevention-facts/. (accessed Oct 2018)
2. 李宗育，陸鳳屏與詹鼎正。老年人跌倒之危險因子、評估、及預防。內科學誌，2014 : 25 : 137-142.