5 Questions a Senior Needs to Ask Following a Fall

Each year in the United States, approximately one in four people over the age of 65 falls. Thankfully some falls do not require medical attention. However, nearly 40 percent of all falls experienced by people over the age of 65 requires medical care and treatment. In addition to receiving treatment for a fall, it is also imperative that a determination be made as to why a fall occurred in the first instance. As part of an effort to determine why a fall occurred, a senior should ask five questions after such an incident:

  • What is my blood pressure?
  • Could my balance be an issue in my fall?
  • Do I need more vitamin D in my diet?
  • Is it possible any underlying conditions caused or contributed to my fall?
  • Did medications play a role in my fall?

What is My Blood Pressure?

Many falls occur when an older person stands up too quickly. A person can experience some degree of lightheadedness in such a situation. This scenario can be indicative of a blood pressure condition known as orthostatic hypotension.

As a result of the possibility that a person may suffer from orthostatic hypotension, measuring your blood pressure while sitting or lying down and then again after standing up should typically be a key part of any fall risk assessment, including after a fall occurs. This type of measure of blood pressure is known as taking your orthostatic blood pressure.

Could My Balance Be an Issue in My Fall?

Gait and balance tests can also be a useful tool for a physician to assess the risk of falls for a senior. These tests include consideration of certain factors such as strength, balance, and gait. Gait is the pattern of a person’s walk.

During these types of tests, a doctor may look for signs of pain or discomfort when walking. Pain or discomfort when walking increases the likelihood of a fall. If your doctor notices unusual gait or lack of balance, some things can be done to prevent future falls. Your doctor should be able to recommend such fall prevention tactics as strengthening exercises. Keep in mind that the time may also have arrived when you may benefit from what is known as an assistive device. Examples of assistive devices are a cane or a walker. Your doctor might also recommend physical therapy following a fall to help target any weak muscles.

Do I Need More Vitamin D in My Diet?

Vitamin D is an important part of a person’s diet. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

We have known for a long time that vitamin D is important for bone health. One of the jobs of vitamin D is to help your gut absorb the calcium and phosphorus from your diet. These minerals in turn, help build and maintain the strength of your bones. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to stress fractures and other problems with the bones.

There are an increasing number of research studies that conclude maintaining the proper amount of vitamin D may be helpful in preventing falls. In addition, maintaining proper vitamin D levels can reduce the risk of broken bones as a result of a fall. One such study indicates that a proper level of vitamin D may reduce the risk of a fall by 23 percent.

Sunlight is a primary source of vitamin D. For this reason, seniors are wise to spend time outside as often as reasonably possible. This can be difficult to accomplish for some older people. As a result, taking a vitamin D supplement oftentimes is recommended.

Underlying Conditions and a Fall

Not as common as some other reasons, there are instances in which an older adult falls as the result of some undiagnosed underlying medical condition. These typically are undiagnosed conditions associated with an individual’s brain or heart.

These conditions include paroxysmal rapid atrial fibrillation. This condition causes a person’s heart to race intermittently, affecting an individual’s blood pressure. In addition, falls can sometimes be caused by an undiagnosed underlying condition like Parkinson’s disease.

Did Medications Play a Role in My Fall?

Finally, the question that you need to ask if you fall is whether or not the medications you take make have played a role in such an incident.

Some medications commonly prescribed to older adults have the propensity to increase the risk of a fall. These include:

  • Some anti-anxiety drugs
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Certain prescription sleep drugs, narcotics
  • Some prescription medications that treat overactive bladder

Harvard Health Publishing reports that the risk of a senior falling is even greater if such an individual is taking a combination of the medications just discussed.  

Lower the Risk of Falls

There are some important steps that a senior can take as a means to lower the risk of falls. These include removing hazards in a person’s home that include:

  • Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords, and phone cords from walkways.
  • Move coffee tables, magazine racks, and plant stands from high-traffic areas.
  • Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks, or a slip-resistant backing — or remove loose rugs from your home.
  • Repair loose, wooden floorboards and carpeting right away.
  • Store clothing, dishes, food, and other necessities within easy reach.
  • Immediately clean spilled liquids, grease, or food.
  • Use nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower. Use a bath seat, which allows you to sit while showering.

As mentioned previously, you may want to consider certain assistive devices as a means of reducing the risk of a fall. A couple of these types of devices were mentioned a moment ago. There is a more exhaustive list of assistive devices to consider as a means of reducing the risk of falling:

  • Handrails for both sides of stairways
  • Nonslip treads for bare-wood steps
  • A raised toilet seat or one with armrests
  • Grab bars for the shower or tub
  • A sturdy plastic seat for the shower or tub — plus a hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while sitting down

In addition to asking the questions discussed in this article after a fall, consider making these inquiries proactively as well. In the final analysis, you can enhance your protection against a fall and associated injuries by making inquires today and before such an incident occurs.