Fall prevention is important for several reasons, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).For example, falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
Elderly fall prevention – why does it matter?
The CDC reports some sobering statistics about falls, and reasons why fall prevention may be a good idea.
- Broken bones and/or head injury result in one in five people who fall.
- Falls can kill you. The percentage of fatal falls rose by about 30% between 2007 and 2016.
- If you fall once, you’re twice as likely to fall again.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
Elderly fall prevention – why do people fall?
If you’re worried about fall prevention for an elderly loved one, you’re not alone. More than 1 in 4 people aged 65 years or older fall each year, according to the CDC.
To help with fall prevention, it may help to understand why people fall. The risk of falling—and fall-related problems—rises with age. As we grow older, we can have problems with our vision, balance, and strength. These are just some of the things that can lead to falling, according to the National Institute of Aging. Medications might make you drowsy or dizzy, and might affect your fall risk as well.
Steps for fall prevention in the elderly
You can take some simple fall prevention steps to help your older loved one avoid injury.
- Encourage your loved one to visit the doctor. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends these fall prevention steps at the doctor’s:
- Tell the doctor if your loved one has fallen or walks unsteadily.
- Ask about vitamin D to boost bone, muscle, and nerve health.
- Show the doctor your loved one’s list of medications and supplements. Ask if any of these could put someone at risk of falling.
- Help your loved one stay active. Fall prevention may include such activities as tai chi to improve strength and balance, according to the CDC.
- Make sure your loved one has regular ear and eye exams. Even small changes in sight and hearing may cause an older adult to fall, according to the National Institute on Aging.
- Do a home safety check for fall prevention. Here are some fall prevention tips about home safety from the CDC.
- Stairs: check to see that steps inside the house, porch, and garage are well-lighted and don’t have loose rugs to trip on. Make sure stairs have railings.
- Lighting: the house, garage, and yard should be well-lighted. Make sure lights are easily reached from chairs and beds.
- Rugs: check for loose rugs. Secure loose rugs with double-sided tape.
- Bathroom: check to see if grab bars are needed in the shower, bath, or beside the toilet.
- Clutter: pick up things on the floor that could trip your loved one.
Fall prevention and Medicare coverage
Medicare Part B (medical insurance) might cover some services that might help with fall prevention. For example, Part B generally covers “wellness” visits once a year. Part B may also cover durable medical equipment, such as canes and walkers, which may help with fall prevention.
Does your loved one have a Medicare Advantage plan? Some Medicare Advantage plans provide in-home safety checkups as a supplemental benefit. You need to qualify for this benefit, and the home safety visit has to meet certain standards. This visit can help with fall prevention.
The home safety checkup shows you any dangers in the home. Sometimes, the person checking out your loved one’s home might make small changes to help with fall prevention.
If your loved one has Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, here’s another fall prevention tip. Ask her prescription drug plan if she qualifies for Medication Therapy Management (MTM) at no cost. MTM is a program that helps make sure different medications are working together well. It’s usually for people who take various prescription drugs for different health problems.
Under the MTM program, your loved one’s Medicare prescription drug plan, pharmacist, and doctor work together to make sure medications are effective. They look for any bad reactions to the drugs (such as dizziness or loss of balance). The program may support your loved one’s fall prevention plan.
Other fall prevention resources
The National Council on Aging (NCOA), the Administration on Aging, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also promote a variety of community-based programs, like A Matter of Balance, Stepping On, and Tai Chi, that can help older adults learn how to reduce their risk of falling. You can contact your Area Agency on Aging to find out what’s available in your area.
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