It’s a terrifying experience when a loved one falls. If they are fortunate enough to survive the first fall without major injuries, you still feel a little shaken. And that’s natural. It’s a reminder that your loved one may need 24*7 support and assistance due to their declining health.
The threat of falls in the elderly is real, overwhelming, and unavoidable. According to an estimate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we can expect seven fall deaths every hour by the year 2030. The ever-increasing and worrying statistics point to a desperate need to prevent falls.
Thus, this blog post aims to educate you on eight things to get checked by a doctor after an elderly fall. Such information will empower you to keep your loved one safe and avoid any life-threatening ordeal in the future.
1. Assessment of Underlying Diseases
One of the causes of recurrent falls in the elderly could be an underlying disease. After the first fall, you should get your loved one checked for:
- Strokes, including mini-strokes
- Atrial fibrillation (a heart condition)
- Anemia (lower than normal red blood cells)
- Urinary tract infection
It may not always turn out to be an underlying disease. The fall may have been induced by dehydration. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
2. Pulse and Blood Pressure
Abnormal levels of blood pressure and irregular pulse can cause fainting or light-headedness. If the senior already takes medication for regulating blood pressure, it’s important to be extra-cautious. Make sure that they never miss a dose.
However, if they’ve already suffered a fall, the doctor must be informed about their condition. Even other medications such as Flomax (a prostate medication) can cause a reduction in blood pressure levels.
Be sure to inform the doctor of every medication taken by the elderly.
3. Blood Tests
A blood test would give a fair idea of symptoms to look for after a fall. An evaluation of kidney function, check of electrolytes, and complete blood cell count (CBC) are generally recommended by a doctor after an elderly fall.
For instance, irregular levels of blood sodium could complicate the matter. If the doctor finds any abnormalities in the blood report and whether they are induced by the falls, they would advise you on addressing them.
4. Review of Medications
Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia is one of the crucial causes of recurrent falls in the elderly. It’s essential to keep a blood sugar log as well as a glucometer at home – especially if the senior takes insulin.
Moments of low blood sugar may not show up in the blood test. Apart from that, certain blood pressure medications, sleeping medications, tranquilizers, sedatives, opiate pain medications, and anticholinergic medications can increase the risk of falls in the elderly.
After the first fall, request a medication review with your doctor to see if any of them can be removed or replaced.
5. Gait and Balance
Pain and discomfort are just a few of the consequences of falls in the elderly. If the pain persists, you should seek medical help – especially if the pain is in the back, joints, or feet. Lack of balance and gait is a leading cause of falls in the elderly.
If this was the reason why your aging loved one fell, it’s a good idea to hire a physical therapist. They can teach suitable strengthening exercises that would minimize the probability of such occurrences in the future.
Also, get an assistive device, if needed.
6. Vitamin D Deficiency
According to a study, Vitamin D deficiency may be responsible for falls in the elderly. Since lack of Vitamin D can lead to fragile bones, the threat of fall becomes imminent. Getting the levels checked thus makes perfect sense.
The doctor may recommend supplements and a few hours in the sun to cope with the deficiency.
7. Underlying Neurological Conditions
An underlying neurological condition like Parkinson’s disease could also be responsible for falls in the elderly. Do not hesitate to ask your doctor if that could be the reason.
Especially if you’ve exhausted all the other possibilities, a chronic neurological condition diagnosis may provide some answers.
8. Review of Home Safety
Accidental falls are not uncommon. The senior could have just tripped over something, unfortunately. Make sure that their home is free of clutter and hire help if necessary. Besides, vision checks may also give you an idea of why the elderly fell in the first place.