Every year, more than 25% of older Americans experience falls, according to the CDC — yet fewer than half bother to tell their doctors. That’s significant, because data show that having just one fall doubles the risk of having another fall — one that could potentially cause a serious injury.
More alarming data:
- 20% of falls cause a serious injury.
- Falls are the leading cause of hip fractures and brain injuries.
- Nearly 1 million people are hospitalized each year for falls.
What’s more, about 3 million older Americans seek emergency room care every year due to injuries sustained in falls.
Having a fall risk assessment is one of the most important steps you can take to reduce your risks of falls and fall-related injuries. Understanding your risk level can help you and your health care provider take important steps to avoid falls in the future.
ENT Specialists is a leading provider of fall risk assessments and balance therapy for older and other at-risk patients in Salt Lake City, Murray, Draper, Tooele, and West Jordan, Utah. In this post, our team reviews how fall risk assessments work, so you can decide if an assessment makes sense for you.
Quick facts about fall risk assessments
Fall risk assessments begin with an in-depth history to review your medical conditions, medications you’re taking, past history of falls, and other concerns that could increase your risk of falling. Vision issues, balance problems, and even osteoporosis and arthritis can play a role in your risk of falling.
Next, we evaluate your balance, gait, mobility, muscle strength, and other factors that have a bearing on your falling risk. Some tests evaluate your vestibular system, the part of your ear that’s responsible for balance and preventing dizziness and vertigo.
We’ll also ask about your home environment (and work environment if you’re not retired). That includes how many steps you use each day, whether your home includes handrails, and what other potential tripping hazards may be present in your home (like raised tubs or throw rugs, for instance).
Some of your assessment involves a physical examination, while other portions use questionnaires to grade or score your fall risk. Together, all these tools help us decide when intervention is recommended.
Getting your results
Your exam provides data that we feed into scoring models designed to gauge your risks of falls and related injuries. Your score helps us make recommendations to help reduce those risks and improve your health and wellness in other ways.
Depending on your personal fall risk, our team will make recommendations to keep you safe and healthy. Those might include:
- Balance training
- Hearing aids
- Strength or flexibility exercises
- Physical therapy
- Change in footwear
- Home modifications
- Having a vision exam
- Changing medications
- Taking vitamin D supplements
Our team can provide you with referrals to other health care providers for additional screenings or assessments as needed.
Anyone can have a fall risk assessment, but it’s especially important if you’re over age 65, you have a history of falling, or you have an underlying condition that makes falls more likely. That includes:
- Thyroid problems
- Foot pain
- Balance or hearing issues
- Vision problems
- Use of multiple medications
- Heart disease or palpitations
- Nerve or blood vessel problems
Having a fall risk assessment is an important part of playing a proactive role in your health and wellness, especially as you get older.
If you or a loved one could benefit from a fall risk assessment, we can help. Book an appointment online or over the phone with the team at ENT Specialists today.