Fall Risk Prevention
Our old age comes whether we want it to or not. Take preventative measures in assessing and mitigating your risk of falling and injuring yourself. If you're ready to receive the care and education to help keep you safe, call us or book online to the right. If not, read on to see how we can help! Hope to see you soon!
As we begin to live longer, it becomes more and more important to retain our independence and preserve our mobility while delaying the onset of pain and discomfort inherent with aging. Fall risk prevention allows us to achieve this long into our golden years.
The risk of experiencing a fall increases as you age. It is estimated that approximately 1/3rd of adults over the age of 65 will experience a fall. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in patients older than 65 years. Falls are associated with significant morbidity including fractures and head injury, prolonged hospitalizations, premature nursing home placement, fall related anxiety syndrome, social isolation or even death.
Falls can put you at significant risk of injury and can expose you and your loved ones to burdensome impositions on your time, energy, money, and peace of mind. Our experts at Magdalena Blasko, DPM, Inc. can evaluate you for any risk factors and advise you on simple fall prevention measures from hazard proofing your home to complex medical evaluations that help augment the function of the lower extremities.
Fall prevention becomes more and more important as you get older. Physical changes in muscle strength, vision and sense of balance may occur in addition to certain health conditions developing that make you more susceptible to experiencing falls.
The medications used to treat these conditions may have side effects that impact mobility and make falls more likely. Falls are a leading cause of injury in our elderly population, but fear of falling should not limit your day to day activities or restrict you from living your life to the fullest.
How do we evaluate our patients for fall risk?
Fall risk prevention should happen as soon as possible if there are any diagnosed conditions that impact a person’s gait. In an ideal world, a fall risk assessment is conducted even before the first fall. This is the same methodology as buying home insurance before the house burns down, not after. There is no guarantee that the first fall will be without complications. After the first fall, an evaluation should be the top priority. After multiple falls, it becomes an absolute must.
Risk factors for falls may be intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic factors are patient specific risk factors which include vision problems, cognition, blood pressure, musculoskeletal strength and rigidity issues, deformities, osteoporosis, gait problems, sensory deficits and parkinsonism. Extrinsic factors include the medications you are on, your behaviors, and environmental factors such as home hazards and poor lighting.
After carefully going through your history, we can assess your fall risk by performing a series of tests including a gait scan, which evaluates the pressure points on the ground under the sole while walking, and a computerized balance test to judge the severity of the balance deficit.
If needed, a vascular test will be performed to judge the oxygenation of the muscle. Sufficient blood supply is incredibly important for the muscle to work at full strength. Apart from evaluating your balance, strength, tone and gait, we will check the sensation in your feet, which may be leading to the increased risk of falls. These simple tests are used as a guide for further evaluation.
Here are some of the fall prevention strategies you can follow.
Review the medications you take and discuss their side effects which may increase the risk of falls with your doctor. You may be on sedatives or antidepressants which can make you sleepy or affect your thinking. We may consider weaning you off some of those medications. Details of your previous falls will help us to identify specific fall prevention strategies.
Removing home hazards will greatly help in preventing falls. Consider removing electrical and phone cords, boxes and newspapers from walkways. Secure or remove loose rugs from your home. Repair loose wooden floor boards and carpeting. Store items of regular use within easy reach. Use non-slip mats in your shower or bathtub. Make sure you clean spilled liquids, food or grease from the floor immediately. You should light up your living spaces to avoid tripping on obscured objects.
There are many assistive devices to help you prevent falls such as handrails for stairways, toilet seats with armrests, grab bars for showers and tubs, non- slip treads for wooden steps, etc...
Make an appointment with your optometrist to check your eyesight and contact a specialist to check your hearing.
Make an appointment with your podiatrist to have your gait and balance checked and ask them to check your circulation and nerve function. Your podiatrist may recommend wearing inserts or braces as well as wearing sensible footwear as a part of your fall risk prevention plan.
Avoid high heels, shoes with slick soles and floppy slippers which can make you slip and fall.
We may recommend you use a cane or walker to keep you steady while walking.
Engaging in regular physical activities like walking, swimming and cycling improves your strength, balance and flexibility thus reducing the risk of falls.
Most solutions we suggest as fall prevention are easily followed. Many of the suggested solutions are covered by insurance but if you are still concerned with cost, as you should be, think of an investment in fall prevention as an investment in your independence, and in the avoidance of costly hospitalization bills later.
How can we help you prevent falls?
Afford us the opportunity to evaluate you, design a personal plan, and help you implement that plan while following up with constant monitoring to intervene in your favor at the slightest change in your body or performance protocol.
We all have people in our lives that are dear to us and took care of us when we were younger. As we watch these mentors age, it is important for us to take care of them like they took care of us. For many of them, they did not grow up immersed in technology and are potentially missing out on the latest innovations in medical care. If you know someone who might benefit from this program, help them explore an opportunity for healthy living. Get them started and we can take care of the rest with our caring staff, awesome educator-provider, and easy to follow printed material as we guide them to healthy living.
Falls can have many long-term ramifications. Fractures and other morbidities due to falls can often lead to loss of independence and the need for additional support. If you think that you or your loved one is at increased risk for falls, visit us in the heart of San Francisco’s Japantown. Our experienced specialists can evaluate and educate you on fall risk prevention, so that you can live your life free from anxiety.