Know Your Fall Risk Factors

Welcome to the Thanksgiving 2019 Education Journal provided by Harmony to promote your health, function and wellness.   During this season,  Harmony celebrates your gifts of family,  friendship and community. 

As shared in our previous blog,  it is  essential that you tell your primary provider about any falls or near falls that you experience.    Additionally,  it’s just as important that you know your fall risk factors.    Age in and of itself is not a fall risk factor;  however, as you age gracefully, your fall risk factors increase and change.   Take a moment and write down your current fall risk factors,  your concerns about falls.   Maybe the first time that you start to think about fall risk factors,  you identity 2, 3, or 4 risks.    However, you may have more.  

I’d like to share with you a model to help you expand your view about fall risk factors.  Think about a block of swiss cheese – make it your block of swiss cheese.  Your block of swiss cheese had a variety of holes beginning and ending throughout. 

Now take a knife and slice your block of cheese into 10 or 12  slices.  Give a name to each slice – some of these may be your fall risk factors:

  • Decreased vision
  • General weakness
  • Medications that result in dizziness or drowsiness
  • Medications that make you drowsy
  • Low blood pressure after standing
  • Painful foot problems
  • Footwear that are too big
  • Loss of sensation in your feet
  • Problems with low blood sugar
  • Difficulty sleeping at night
  • Sadness
  • Bladder problems

When you enter into the Harmony Fall Prevention Program,  and complete a screening of your fall risk factors,   your balance, and environmental assessment, more fall risk factors are discovered.  This added knowledge creates even greater opportunities for you and your provider to enter into your individualized care plan to reduce your risk of falling to treat your fall risk factors and help you learn to compensate for the fall risk factors.    Harmony’s goal, like yours, is to reduce your fall risks and in turn, increase you function, safety and independence. 

Remember, the evidence confirms that older adults live with multiple fall risk factors (Guidelines, 2010)   Indeed, a single risk factor,  such as low blood pressure when we stand,  can result in a fall.   Also, when risk for fall combine, your risk of falling increases.  Harmony wants to reduce your risks.  So, do not be embarrassed or afraid to talk with your provider about your fall risk concerns and factors.  

Think of a fall like this:  for a fall to occur,  the holes through all your cheese slices have to align – from start to end.  That’s the picture of an accident.   

Harmony’s goal is to prevent your falls by reducing your risks and block the holes in your cheese slices from aligning.  Each fall risk factor can be treated, minimized and even eliminated when you openly talk with your provider and enter into a shared care plan – individualized to your own needs and concerns. 

Harmony commits to raise your awareness of the importance to identify and treat your fall risk factors with your healthcare provider, to that ultimately reduce your risk of falling and promote your independence.  You may also want to use this online tool, provided by CDC’s STEADI Program (Stopping Elderly Accidents,  Deaths and Injury):  Staying Independent brochure

You can print this, completed it, and then discuss your answers with your provider.  The items that you answered “yes” to,  create the topics to talk about with your provider. 

I hope this educational journal is helpful to you.  Please let us all know,  comment and ask questions!

Thank you for participating in this community of learning,  

Dr. Pat

 Reference

American Geriatrics Society, British Geriatrics Society, 2010. AGS/BGS Clinical Practice Guideline: Prevention of Falls in Older Persons. American Geriatrics Society, New York, pp. 2010.

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