CANNON FALLS, Minn. — One in every three adults ages 65 or older falls and 2 million are treated in emergency departments for fall-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The long-term consequences of fall injuries, such as hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries (TBI), can impact the health and independence of older adults.
“We want our senior citizens to be safe in their homes, as well as when they are out and about,” says Janet Chestnut, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Cannon Falls. “May is National Trauma Awareness month, and this is a good time to learn about tips that ensure the safety of our elders.”
The American Geriatrics Society and British Geriatrics Society have developed guidelines to aid in identifying and planning interventions for at-risk seniors. Their recommendations include:
- Annual vision and hearing tests
- Regular exercise programs that emphasize flexibility and balance, such as tai chi
- Medication reviews of prescription and over-the-counter drugs and herbs
- A footwear assessment by a physical therapist or nurse
- Referral to volunteer agencies for help with snow removal and other home and yard chores
- Recommendations for adaptive aids and training in their proper use
- Home safety assessment and modifications, including grab bars, improved lighting and elimination of tripping hazards
Fall prevention education remains critical for all older adults. Many seniors, their family members and caregivers aren't aware of the factors that make falls likely or how to reduce them. Health care providers can help fill that knowledge gap. To schedule an appointment or to see if your family member is eligible for a free Medicare Annual Wellness Visit, call 507-263-6000.