American Family Physician featured a study from former White House Physician George F. Fuller outlines the growing problem of falls in the elderly and details steps for prevention. Fuller produced a number of thorough checklists and tests that you or your loved one can use to investigate and prevent future falls.
Falls are the leading cause of injury-related visits to emergency departments in the United States and also the primary cause of accidental deaths in persons over the age of 65.
Fuller outlines how to screen seniors with known risk factors and stresses questioning about their falls or close calls on a periodic basis. A thorough recorded history is very important to determine the patient's reason for falling, any specific risk factors for their falls, or physical impairments that can contribute to falls and the appropriate diagnostic work-up.
Routinely people will blame their falls on just a small trip, but make sure you or your loved one discuss any fall in detail with a physician. The physician or professional may be able to determine if any other environmental obstacle or another undetermined factor caused their fall.
Fuller offers a number of tables to complete a risk factor assessment:
- Risk Factors for Falls
- Common Causes of Falls in the Elderly
- Drugs the May Increase the Risk of Falling
- Physical Examination
- Home Safety Checklist
Fuller composed an algorithm that ties the above together into an easy to use table.
He also has highlighted the effective evaluation tools the Timed “Up & Go” Test and the “Get-Up and Go” test.
Both tests can be used to evaluate you or your loved one’s gait and balance. The physician will monitor both the patients times and any gait or balance problems.