One-third of older adults who live at home fall at least once each year. That makes falls the leading cause of injury for elders. The most severe consequences include injuries that can be life changing: a traumatic brain injury or broken hip. These can lead to the need to move to a setting with more assistance.
Your relative is considered “high risk” for falling if he or she has fallen twice in the past year, has balance or gait problems, or has just had a severe fall.
To be safe, ask your family member’s doctor to do a "fall risk assessment." This includes a review of
- underlying medical conditions. Many chronic diseases affect balance and mobility.
- the home environment. The doctor can write an order for an occupational therapist or other trained professional to do a home assessment. (You might also review the tips offered in our article about making your home safer.)
- medication use. Some types of drugs, or daily use of four or more prescription drugs, increase the risk for falling.