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As we age, it can become daunting to keep up with a wide variety of doctor’s appointments.
But as the risk of falling increases in our senior years, it’s never more important to do so.
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, every year over 36 million older adults suffer a fall, with three million requiring trips to an emergency room, and 800,000 requiring hospitalization.
There are a variety of steps you or a caregiver can take, from fall-proofing the home to engaging in physical activity, but keeping up with doctor’s appointments is also vital. Doctors can help diagnose problems that can lead to a fall and offer advice on ways to stay safe.
While the process of scheduling appointments and navigating the health care system can be time-consuming, if it helps reduce the risk of falling, it’s worth it. After all, as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of a cure.
With that in mind, here are a few doctor’s appointments to consider making for yourself or a loved one.
Primary Care Physician
If it’s been a while since your last trip to the doctor, it’s important to start with your primary care physician. They should be updated on any changes to your health since your last visit, and can offer guidance on fall risks that you or a loved one might not be considering.
A primary care physician can also offer advice on starting or changing a fitness routine, and review any medications that you or a loved one may be taking that can cause side effects like dizziness that can contribute to a fall. They should also be able to gauge your gait and perform basic tests that can give clues to any physical issues that can lead to a fall.
The caveat of course, is that you or a loved one needs to be honest with them about any symptoms you, or they, may be experiencing. They can only help if they know what’s going on.
Eye-ing Fall Prevention
Many older adults suffer a fall due to vision problems – maybe they miss a stair, or don’t see a cord running along the floor. Whether it’s ensuring a prescription is up to date, or detecting a deterioration in vision, preventing falls can start with the eyes.
Consider that according to a National Health Interview survey, “When compared to Americans 18 to 44 years of age, Americans 75 years of age and over were nearly three times as likely to report vision loss.”
So whether it’s seeing an ophthalmologist for serious conditions like glaucoma or cataracts, or an optometrist, who acts as a primary care physician for the eyes with prescriptions and fittings for glasses, vision tests and treating conditions like dry eye, getting in front of any vision concerns is vital.
Much like our vision, with age our hearing can deteriorate as well. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, “Approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing.”
As such, an older adult may not hear another person or a pet coming around a corner from another room, or miss other cues that a fall risk is near.
A primary care physician can likely perform a basic hearing test, but it’s worth investigating further if you feel like yourself or a loved one needs specialized testing.
Consider a Geriatrician
While you may have been seeing the same primary care physician for many years and have built a relationship with them, it may be time to also consider a geriatrician.
A geriatrician has special training in complex medical conditions common among seniors, and can work in tandem with your current physician or team to help guide your care going forward. Here are some signs that it might be time to consider a geriatrician:
- You or a loved one has multiple medical conditions.
- A treatment for one condition is adversely affecting other conditions.
- You or a loved one is dealing with diminishing muscle mass and frailty.
- You or a loved one is dealing with polypharmacy, which is commonly defined as the use of four or more medications.
Each of those considerations are fall risks for older adults, and a geriatrician can help direct your care to mitigate some of those risks.
Fall Safety at Prestige
At Prestige Senior Living, fall safety is at the heart of everything we do. Our fitness classes help residents build and maintain strength to help counteract the deterioration of muscle mass that comes with aging.
Meanwhile, our apartments include safety measures like walk-in showers/tubs with non-slip mats, grab bars in the bathroom and emergency call buttons.
For more information about how we help protect our residents, contact the community nearest you.