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Preventing Falls in the Aging Population

In Part  2 of the Healthy Aging series,

I will discuss the very important topic of fall prevention in our aging population.

Why is fall prevention in older people such an important concern?

If an older adult falls and is injured; their ability to live independently decreases.

Preventing Falls in the Aging Population
Preventing Falls in the Aging Population

Preventing Falls in the Aging Population

What are the main causes of falls?

The four main factors to consider in preventing falls in our aging population are the indoor

environment, the outdoor environment, physical changes, and chronic health conditions:

1. Indoor environment:

Possible causes of falls include:

o Poor lighting

or excessive clutter

o Tripping over extension cords

o Lack of safe handrails

o Loose scattered rugs

o Tripping over pets

2. Outdoor environment:

Possible causes of falls include:

o Poor lighting

o Lack of handrails

o Uneven walking surfaces

o Mother Nature (Ice, snow, rain)

3. Physical changes associated with aging:

The following conditions contribute to an increased incidence of falls:

4. Chronic health conditions:

These conditions can also lead to an increased incidence of falls:

or high blood pressure

or heart problems

or bladder problems

o Diabetes (blood sugar)

Preventing Falls in the Aging Population

To demonstrate that the increased incidence of falls in older people involves a multitude of factors,

I will use the case history of a patient named Fred.

Fred is a fiercely independent 73-year-old retired engineer.

He lost his wife two years ago and is having a hard time getting by without his company.

Fred likes to go for walks, work in the garden, and his new hobby is woodworking.

Preventing Falls in the Aging Population
Preventing Falls in the Aging Population

Preventing Falls in the Aging Population

Fred was injured in a fall and decided to visit his friendly neighborhood chiropractor.

He states that he has had two ear infections in the last year and has also experienced dizziness

and balance problems. Upon further questioning,

Fred admits to having had four falls in the past few months,

saying “I haven’t eaten well since my wife died

.” He usually eats one or two fast foods every day.

He also drinks five to six cups of coffee with sugar every day “to help keep me going.

” After further prodding, Fred reluctantly admitted that he drinks a case.

Preventing Falls in the Aging Population
Preventing Falls in the Aging Population

Why does Fred fall?

The four possible reasons include:

o Diabetes/hypoglycemia caused by poor diet and increased alcohol consumption.

o Inner ear infection may be causing inner ear imbalance.

or alcohol impairment

o Possible dangers in the home?

Since Fred had several possible disease processes,

he was referred to his physician for investigation. The treatment recommended by the

DC and MD included:

I am pleased to report that after a 1-year follow-up visit; Fred had followed all of our

recommendations, he feels great and has not fallen again.

Today’s action step is to go through your home and check for all potential hazards to your floors,

lighting, bathroom, and kitchen.

Flooring Checklist – Answer Yes or No:

1. Do your rugs and rugs lay flat without wrinkles or wavy edges?

2. Do loose mats have a non-slip backing?

3. Do you clean up spills as soon as they happen?

4. Are the floors free of clutter?

5. Are all cables safely stored away from walkways?

6. Are the floor surfaces non-slip?

 

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