I wanted to write about senior citizens and their falls. I have recently lost a very beloved patient that was like a grandmother to me. In fact, I think she had the type of personality that she could be the grandmother of anyone she met. She was just that nice.
Senior citizens and their risk factors for falling is a very large problem. It is often overlooked by family and the patients themselves. Issues such walking speed, balance, shuffling, footwear, leg pain, leg swelling and foot pain can all be improved and therefore minimizing risk of falls.
I’ve never met a senior citizen that ever wanted to be made a fuss about. However, this is exactly what needs to be done in order to prevent these falls from happening. Although nothing is 100%; we minimize risk and we will not have to cause any more necessary harm to this vulnerable population. They could be in a nursing home or long term care facility or even a well supervised retirement living community. The fact is, if they fall, their lives will be changed forever. After a fall, people often get older; they age mentally, their bodies age physically. It is such a catastrophic incident that it changes them.
What I often hear about from my seniors that are more mobile is that they may have a walker or cane but they never use them. They may not even wear shoes in the house or have very flimsy, unsupportive footwear. I always tell my patients that slippers “slip” so wear stable sandals or comfortable indoor shoes at the house. This will prevent ankle injuries, foot pain and prevent flat foot problems.
Having handles and furniture around the house that seniors can grab onto is only half the battle. What will happen if you do not have enough strength to hold yourself up on that furniture or even handlebar? These supportive structures can become structures one can hurt themselves on. Recognizing time of possible weakness is key. Going over your medications with your physician on a regular basis. Remember heart disease and stroke are leading causes of death and silent killers like high blood pressure need to be taken care of.
Who has time for that? Sometimes, our seniors are so active and mobile that none of the above factors seem to be a risk at all. Sometimes, it could just simply be their time.
I would like my patient population to know that I can offer a proper analysis of gait, structure and mobility aids (canes, walkers, shoes,, braces) that could minimize your loved ones likelihood of falling. Sure insurance may or may not cover it, but prevention as we all know is the best medicine and we owe it to our loved ones to keep them safe.