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"Minor" falls can mean serious business for senior citizens

Booming Forward: Seniors and Falls
Posted at 1:54 PM, Nov 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-15 15:54:15-05

Dr. Steven Richardson, a family medicine physician with Optum, joined FOX13's Morgan Saxton to help answer some questions about seniors slipping and falling.

Q:   What are the main risks associated with a fall?

Any fall, even a seemingly “minor” one, can cause serious injuries, such as broken bones or head injuries. This can make it difficult for people to get around, live on their own or do everyday activities.

Head injuries are a very serious risk, as well – especially if you’re taking certain medications such as blood thinners An older person who falls and hits their head should see a doctor right away to ensure they do not have a brain injury.

Q: What should I do if experience a fall?

A fall can be startling, even a minor one, especially if you’re an older adult and live by yourself.

  • First, try to stay calm. Take deep breaths. This can help with the shock
  • Before you try to get up, determine if you’re hurt. Getting up too quickly, or in the wrong way, can make a potential injury worse
  • If you can safely get up without help, rolling over onto your side and resting as much as you need will help your body and blood pressure adjust
  • Don’t get up all at once – slowly get up to your hands and knees, and crawl to a sturdy seat or chair
  • Use the chair to brace yourself, and slide a foot forward to rest flat on the floor. Then, from that kneeling position, slowly rise and turn to sit down in the chair

Most of us are carrying our cell phones at all times anyway, but if you feel you’d be particularly vulnerable if you fell, it can be helpful to make sure you’re carrying your phone with you at all times, so you’re able to call 911 or other help if needed
Q: Are there medications or other risk factors that could make me particularly susceptible to falling?

Certain medications, including tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants, can affect your balance and how steady you feel on your feet.

If you’re taking any drug that makes you feel dizzy or sleepy, make sure to speak with your health care provider about possible associated risks of falls.

If you generally have difficulty walking, or with your balance, use of a cane or a walker could be a helpful solution to help prevent falling.

Foot pain or poor footwear can contribute to your susceptibility to a fall. Wearing non-skid, rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes, or lace-up shoes with non-skid soles that support your feet can help.

Lower body weakness or vision problems can contribute to a fall, as well. With the advice of your doctor, work on improving your leg strength, and make sure your vision prescription, if applicable, is up-to-date.

Pay attention to home hazards, as well – things like torn carpet, clutter, rugs that can be easily tripped over.

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