Reducing Fall Risk in the Elderly

Whistlestop In San Rafael, has lead the way in addressing aging in our communities. CEO Joe O'Hehir has been a champion of bringing quality of life for older adults and people living with disabilities. The organization centers its mission around nutrition, transportation, education, multicultural, and information and resources. 

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Creating an Effective Fall Prevention Strategy for the Elder

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Creating an Effective Fall Prevention Strategy

By: Cynthia Seymour Care Navigator

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. You’ve noticed the need to rely more on furniture and railings for support or difficulty getting up from a chair. How do you minimize the risk of a fall?

Our 3 Step Approach 

1)Seek the advice of a physician and rule out underlying causes which can range from chronic conditions and infections to cognitive impairment, vision changes, dementia or medications.

2)Use health insurance for skilled care to improve balance and strength.

3)Add social determinants, including home care (also referred to as personal or custodial care), transportation and other services in the community for quality of life.

Solutions 

Once the physician has figured out what is contributing to weakness, imbalance and gait issues, they should initiate the conversation about treatments and next steps. Solutions may range from physical therapy (PT), to ambulatory aids (walkers) and home care. With a doctor’s order, Medicare can cover a certain number of PT visits per year in clinic or in home if eligible.

Home care is an anchor and can be accomplished through private care givers, agencies, family members and adult day programs. Transportation, meal programs, supervised activities and classes are other elements to consider. We believe your care plan must run parallel to your financial plan and the goal is to optimize care, safety and contentment within the confines of health insurance, other benefits and personal financial means.

Mixed Strategy  

How can one create an effective fall prevention strategy? We recommend a mixed strategy, part covered by benefits, part private pay. In summary:

  • Make a doctor’s appointment to address concerns and take notes
  • Add clinical care, outpatient PT or home health (skilled care)
  • Seek to improve balance and strength through exercise
  • Add attendant care
  • Make corrections: ambulatory aids, vision, home environment
  • Age related weakness can cause elders to become afraid to move, which make matters worse. Having difficulty motivating change? Seek out the help of a RN Case Manager or Navigator experienced in helping families assess, advocate and align services inside and outside the healthcare system.


     

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