Fall-Traps: Preventable Mishaps


Falls are a serious issue for elderly patients. Almost 40 per cent of elders aged 60 and older — even those who are generally healthy — fall at least once a year. Five per cent of them who fall need hospitalisation. Also, 75 per cent of deaths are a result of falls in people aged 65 and over.

What to do? No need to worry. A handful of simple things would be more than useful.

Falls in the elderly happen most often due to balance disorders, cognitive impairment, visual deficits and medications, to name just a few. It is also suggested that almost 75 per cent of patients who have health disorders fall vis-a-vis 27 per cent of elderly individuals who have no noticeable problem.

A common and serious problem for older persons, falling results in injuries such as broken bones and cuts, which may often need hospital care and/or nursing home admission. The incidence of falling and the severity of fall-related complications rise steadily after about age 60.

All elderly persons would do well to inform their doctor even of a minor fall. Because, falling can be prevented by relatively simple interventions, most notably —

  • By adjusting the dose of your medication/s
  • New eyeglasses.

Besides, your doctor can also determine your risk of falling and help you avoid falling in the future.

You should also bear in mind that the following pointers may be useful to your doctor, when you report a fall:

  • The circumstance that led to the fall
  • Any trouble you may have while walking, or if you ever feel ‘off-balance’
  • Have any weakness. or other problems with your legs.
  • If you use any walking aids, such as a cane, or walker
  • Any vision problems, and any other medical problems, you may have
  • All medications you are taking, including over-the-counter [OTC] medications, or herbal remedies.

When you report to your doctor the above possibilities, a simple evaluation is performed, following which a review is made. Here goes —

  • History of falling and all medications you take
  • Your gait and balance
  • Your vision
  • Function and strength of your legs
  • Your cardiovascular status, including heart rate, rhythm, and blood pressure
  • Your use of walking aids, such as canes and walkers.

Your doctor may offer the following recommendations after evaluation:

  • Modifying. or adjusting the dose of your medication/s
  • Exercise programme with balance training
  • Gait training and guidance in the proper use of walking aids
  • Correcting any risks in your home that could contribute to falling — e.g., loose carpets, or poor lighting
  • Treatment of any cardiovascular disorder, such as heart rhythm abnormalities, and low blood pressure.


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