Are falls a normal part of aging?
Falls are one of the most prevalent issues aging adults face. In fact, studies show that one-third of patients over the age of 65 fall yearly, and falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults. Many of these falls are not reported because patients do not recognize that it is a health problem with distinct causes and possible interventions. Many other patients are injured and require hospitalization or emergency room (ER) visits.
It is important to keep in mind falls are not a normal consequence of aging. Multiple risk factors such as muscle weakness, balance problems, vision/hearing loss, certain medications, cognitive loss and more can contribute to a fall. Every fall should be viewed as an opportunity to intervene to help prevent future falls, which may result in additional injuries, such as hip fractures. More than 95 percent of hip fractures among adults over age 65 have been attributed to falls.
If you have concerns about yourself or a loved one, help is available. Summa’s Falls Reduction Program, part of the Center for Senior Health, may be able to help you avoid falls in the future.
The program is run by a nurse practitioner (NP) who will conduct an initial assessment and ask about any previous falls and explore possible causes. The assessment involves:
- A complete medical history
- A physical exam
- Assessment of gait, balance, range of motion and strength
- Assessment of sensation, vision and cognitive ability
- Assessment of medication use
- Evaluation of dizziness or vertigo (if present)
- Conversation about the home environment and offer of a home safety assessment to take place at a later date
The NP may recommend a physical therapy referral for strength, gait and balance training. Vitamin D supplementation and home modification will be implemented by the NP as necessary. Medication changes to prevent future falls may be recommended to the patient’s primary care physician.
To schedule an appointment for our Fall Services in Summa’s Center for Senior Health, either at Summa Akron City Hospital or Summa Wadsworth-Rittman Hospital please contact (330) 375-4100.