Falling: It’s Not Just a Concern for the Elderly

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Fall Prevention

One in three adults aged 65 or older fall each year. If you are within this age category, it’s important to take this seriously, as it can happen to anyone and can cost you money, independence and even your life.

Key Facts

  • In 2013, 2.5 million people visited the emergency room due to a fall, and 734,000 of those ended up with a hospital stay.
  • The average cost of hospitalization due to a fall is approximately $35,000.
  • Of those who fall, 20 to 30 percent suffer a moderate to severe injury that limits their long-term independence and increases their chance of premature death.
  • Falling is not a “normal” part of aging. It can be prevented by staying active, maintaining a healthy environment and getting regular check-ups.

People are more likely to fall as they get older because, as you get older, you’re also more likely to have one or more chronic health issues. These issues – such as diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, vision problems, etc. – can create balance problems on their own, or may require medications that can create balance problems. Here’s the good news: There are multiple ways you can lower your fall risk, regardless of your age.

How to Lower Your Risk of Falling

Get active. More specifically, get active doing something that promotes flexibility, balance and strength, such as yoga, tai chi or Pilates. There are also free or low-cost options available locally that focus on senior balance and fall prevention. Matter of Balance at the YMCA is one of these classes and is open to the public.

Visit the doctor regularly. Talk to your primary care physician about your personal risk of falling, and discuss any concerns you may have. In addition to regular physicals, make sure to get annual hearing and vision screenings. Your ability to see and hear has a big impact on your ability to safely navigate through spaces. To schedule an appointment today with a primary care physician to discuss your risk of falling, please visit www.ololphysiciangroup.com.

Review your current medications. Those who take four or more medications daily are at an even higher risk of falling. The medications you’re taking may have side effects that make you more likely to fall, or they may interact with each other in a way that makes maintaining your balance more difficult. Your doctor or pharmacist can help you review your medications and advise on any adjustments that may be needed. Do not try to adjust your medications on your own.

Assess your environment. Over half of all falls occur at home, but with careful assessment you can lower this risk. Make sure your floor is free of clutter, loose rugs and other obstacles. Replace any bulbs that are burnt out and make sure your house is well-lit. For those with an increased concern or risk, you may consider installing handles or grab bars in your shower or bathtub.

About Dr. Hernandez

Dr. HernandezBrandi Hernandez, MD, is a native of Norco, La. She received her bachelor’s degree from LSU, and then went on to receive her medical degree from the LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans. She completed her Internal Medicine residency at LSU Health Sciences Center in Baton Rouge. Dr. Hernandez is a member of the American College of Physicians and the American Medical Association. She specializes in adult primary care and preventive medicine, and currently sees patients at Internal Medicine at Hennessy. Click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hernandez, or call (225) 765-8829.

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