Why is fall prevention so important?
Falls can be a serious incident that can lead to increased morbidity, mortality, and extra healthcare costs- especially in adults over 65. According to the CDC, 2.8 million older adults are treated in the emergency department due to fall injuries in year. Of the people hospitalized for fall injuries, 300,000 of those cases are hip fractures. Hip fractures among older adults are the most serious of fall injuries. In many cases, loss of independence occurs after a hip fracture incident. In addition to hip fractures, falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries. Taking preventative steps against falls can help protect you and your loved ones from avoidable pain, injuries, and health care costs.
What factors put you at greater risk for falls?
Some risk factors for falls include:
· Weakness and difficulty walking
· Vision problems
· Certain medications
· Improper foot wear
· Slippery or uneven surfaces
· Clutter around the house
What Medications are associated with falls?
Almost any medication that impairs your central nervous system can put you at increased risks for falls. This is not a comprehensive list, but some common medications include:
· Anti-anxiety medications
· Antidepressants and antipsychotics
· Sedating or sleep medications
· Over-the-counter medications such as Benadryl
· Opioid pain medications
What can I do to prevent falls?
There are multiple things you can do to prevent falls.
Talk to your doctor: Talk to your doctor to establish what your fall risk may be. Furthermore, you can work together with your clinician to eliminate or find alternatives to any of your medications that may pose a fall risk.
Exercise: Exercise is a great way of improving your balance and strength. By engaging in exercise, you can improve your lower body strength and coordination to decrease your risk of falls.
Proper Footwear: Make sure you are wearing proper non-slip footwear. Do not walk around in socks, stockings, or slippers without a grip.
Home Additions: Tools like railings and bars can be added to your living space to provide assistance when needed. Bars outside your tub or toilet can aid in standing and sitting and make it less likely that an accident will occur. Non-slip mats can also be installed in the tub or shower to ensure proper grip when bathing.
Clear up clutter: It is a good idea to eliminate clutter on the floor to ensure you do not trip over anything. In addition, make sure that each room is well lit.
Keep your bones healthy: In an event a fall occurs, we want to avoid the chances of breaking any bones. Getting enough calcium and vitamin D and engaging in resistance exercising are just some of the ways we can keep our bones healthy and strong. Talk with your doctor about calcium and vitamin D supplementation to see if it’s right for you.
Jin Lim, PharmD Candidate 2019