Worried about falls in an older parent or relative? If so, do you know if their doctor has considered the most useful prevention approaches?
Fall risk can be reduced, but it generally takes some thought and effort. That’s in part because most older adults have multiple factors making them vulnerable to falls.
In a previous post on this site, I explained that best fall prevention plans involve identifying a senior’s particular risks — especially risks related to health conditions — and trying to counter those.
So for instance, if an older person has diabetes and is having frequent moments of low blood sugar (also known as hypoglycemia), for fall prevention addressing the hypoglycemia is as important, if not more, as starting an exercise program.
In other words, I always recommend that aging adults and families learn to tailor their fall prevention plans. You want to focus on what are the most important modifiable risk factors for that individual person.
That said, over the years I’ve noticed that there are five approaches that I find myself using over and over again, in almost all my patients who have had repeated falls.
These five approaches are used often by geriatricians, but much less often by busy primary care doctors. Unless, that is, a proactive family asks about them.
My Five Most-Used Fall Prevention Approaches
- Medication review, followed by reducing medications that increase fall risk
- Checking blood pressure sitting and standing
- Gait, strength, and balance evaluations, often in collaboration with physical therapy
- Home safety assessment and modification, in collaboration with occupational therapy when possible
- Vitamin D
If you’d like to learn more, I go into greater detail in this article that I originally wrote for A Place for Mom: 5 Proven Approaches Geriatricians Use to Prevent Falls.
Remember, it’s always good to be proactive. If you’ve been worried about falls, and the doctors haven’t offered these approaches, I recommend you ask about these.
And if your older relative has had a fall, be sure to review 8 Things to Have the Doctor Check After an Aging Person Falls.