All ages are at risk to fall or injury, including young children learning to walk, or the elderly. Did you know that falls are one of the major causes of injuries to the elderly, and the chance of head injury is high?
Avoiding falls and injury cannot always be done, so wearing an approved, properly fitted helmet for the sport, activity, or work that you are performing is smart.
For the elderly, falls may be unpredictable, but you can reduce the risk of falls. Actions to prevent falls include:
- Removing trip hazards, especially from the bed to bathroom where falls often occur (ex: bath mats, rugs, low furniture)
- Rising slowly from a lying or sitting position, maintaining a steady stance before moving
- Avoiding the use of ladders or stools to reach items
- Install grab bars in the bathroom, always use stair rails
- Regular exercise for balance, flexibility, and strength
- Use of a cane, or walker
At any age, medications can affect balance, cause dizziness, or drowsiness. Your pharmacist can review your medications to determine those that are of concern, and address solutions to prevent falls. Always read the warning label on any over the counter medications for the chance of fall risk. The pharmacist can help you select medications that won’t impair your balance.
Certain conditions will increase the risk of falling and additional precautions are required for:
- Visually impaired (cataracts, glaucoma, acuity, and depth perception impairments)
- Movement disorders
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Peripheral neuropathy (ex: diabetes, kidney failure)
For conditions with a higher risk of falling, a fall monitoring device may be considered. All falls should be evaluated by a physician. Even if there is no injury, consideration for the cause and addressing prevention is recommended. Often falls with brain trauma are not recognized by the person as loss of consciousness can be very brief, or a hit to the head not felt. When it comes to head injury, better to err on the side of caution. Signs of concussion include “fogginess” or dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, blurry vision, or ringing in the ears. If a fall includes head trauma or loss of consciousness suspect a concussion and seek immediate medical attention.