It is widely known that falls are the leading cause of injury among the elderly in the U.S. with the number of falls and the severity of injury increasing with each additional year of a senior’s life. What is not so widely known is that certain people are at a higher risk for accidental falls and should be regularly screened to help reduce the high number of fall-related injuries and deaths in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Neurology.
Although falls do not discriminate and can occur at any time, to anyone, at any place, people who have dementia, walking and balance disorders, or have had a stroke have the greatest risk of falling. If your loved one has fallen within the past year, it is very likely he or she will fall again. People with Parkinson’s disease, peripheral neuropathy, weak legs or feet, and vision loss are also at an increased risk for falling.
In order to better prevent falls from occurring, the American Academy of Neurology recommends that doctors routinely ask patients about falls and administer screening measures and mobility tests to assess whether an individual is at a higher risk of falling. Preventative measures can include beginning a regular exercise regimen and eliminating fall hazards from the home (read more about safety-proofing your home for seniors).
According to the AAN, there is a lack of awareness among doctors and patients in recognizing and preventing falls. The elderly are often hesitant about discussing falls with their doctor for fear they may have to relocate out of their home and into a care facility. Therefore it is important for caregivers to have their care recipients address any falls they have experienced with their doctor during medical screenings.
In addition to having the doctor examine your loved one, there are numerous health tips they can take into account in order to lessen their risk of falling which include:
- Getting an annual physical and eye examination, particularly evaluating for cardiac and blood pressure problems
- Maintaining a diet with adequate dietary calcium and vitamin D
- Avoiding cigarettes and excessive alcohol intake
With more than11 million seniors suffering from falls each year, treatment associated with seniors falling in the U.S. is at more than $20 billion annually. Help your loved one avoid becoming a statistic by having his or her doctor properly screen for falls and taking preventative measures to lessen the risk.