How senior citizens can prevent falls

Ask the Expert

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – According to the National Institute on Aging, the risk of falling rises with age, causing many older people to fear activities like walking or shopping.

Once a patient turns 65 years old, Internal Medicine Dr. Parampal Bhullar said he starts routinely asking if the person has fallen down within the past year.

“Sometimes we do a test called the get up and go test,” he said. “You’re sitting down, you get up, go across the room, come back and we time you to see if you can do it in 12 seconds or not.”

To prevent falls, he suggests checking for these possible hazards in your home, such as bed height, loose rugs, toilet seat height and enough lighting.

Dr. Bhullar said older patients are generally at a higher risk with only 5 to 10 percent of these falls causing fractures and hospitalizations. He said 20 percent cause soft tissue injuries.

“The majority of falls don’t lead to injury, however they’re still serious in the way that they cause patients to have more fear of falling,” he added.

If you are scared of falling, he said the first step is to be evaluated to see if any changes can be made.

“Sometimes the most modifiable factor is low muscle strength, low reaction times and we refer them to a supervised exercise program with a physical therapist.”

Bon Secours physical therapist Cherl Ann Desdune-Monte says she often recommends tai chi and water exercises and a cane set at the proper height.

“There should be a slight elbow band and when they hold the cane it’s almost like their hand is about to enter their pocket and that’s about the right height.”

If someone does fall and is alone, she said they can crawl to a table or a chair where they can get into a half kneeling position and use their hands to assist them up.

If you have a loved one who suffers a fall, Dr. Bhullar said not to disregard it as simply tripping, but instead, said to ask questions in case it’s a warning sign for other conditions.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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