Falls become more likely as we grow older. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says falls are the leading cause of injury among adults 65 and older. Statistics show that more than one in four people age 65 and older fall each year, but fewer than half tell their doctor.
About half of those who fall sustain an injury, and about 10 percent of those are serious injuries and lead to medical costs of nearly $30 billion a year. Many people suffer life-changing hip fractures or head injuries because of these falls.
The CDC says that these falls can be prevented and recommends that people age 65 and older should ask their doctor or health care provider to evaluate their risk for falling. One way to do that is to undergo a fall risk assessment to find out if you have a low, moderate or high risk of falling.
A fall risk assessment is a tool used to predict the likelihood of someone falling. Health care facilities typically use a scoring system to measure the cumulative effects of known risk factors for falling.
Among the factors considered are:
- A person’s age, because older patients are at a higher risk of falling.
- A person’s previous fall history. A person who has fallen in the past six months to year, they are at a higher risk to fall again. People who have fallen multiple times may be considered a high fall risk.
- A person’s strength, balance and gait also can be factors. Assessment tests can help determine a person’s risk to fall based on these factors.
- People who have difficulty walking because of impaired mobility or lower limb weakness.
- People on certain medications may be at a higher risk for falls because of side effects. People on multiple medications might be at higher risk for fall.
- People tethered to medical equipment, such as IV, chest tubes, etc., may also be more likely to fall.
- People who are agitated, confused or lack understanding of their physical and mental limitations may have a higher risk of falling.
If the assessment shows you are at an increased risk, your health care provider and/or caregiver may recommend strategies to prevent falls and reduce the chance of injury. People who are determined to be at risk of falls can benefit from physical therapy and occupational therapy.
Cass County Medical Care Facility can help assess people’s risks for falling and has physical and occupational therapists available seven days a week to help work to reduce the likelihood of falls.