Fall Prevention & Medication Management
Two topics often overlooked in maintaining optimal health for seniors in a relatively easy manner are fall prevention and medication management. Below we answer some of your questions about both.
Q: Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about ‘fall prevention,’ but do I really need to be concerned? While I’m within an “at risk” age group “most likely to fall,” I am quite steady on my feet and frankly, don’t feel “at risk” at all. What is the story?
A: According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injuries for seniors. And they often result in fractures, and even head injuries. Having said that, of course, not everyone’s going to fall, especially if you are steady on your feet. Nevertheless, it’s just something to be aware of because even the best athletes can trip over something and fall. And falling when you’re older can be much more serious than when your younger as an older person’s bones, generally speaking, are more brittle and will break easier.
Q: My dad lives alone. What are some things I can do to help prevent him from falling in the first place?
A: The number one thing you can do is create what’s called a “safe living space.” Begin by removing clutter from his home, particularly things strewn about on the floor that he can trip over including slippery rugs. Encourage your father to avoid wearing loose fitting clothing which can get caught on something or drag on the floor. And if he likes to wear socks, make sure he only wears the kind with grips on the bottom of them; the usual kind are too dangerous. Also include non-slip mats in your shower and bathtub to prevent falls on wet surfaces. And make sure the house is adequately lit. Lastly, install guardrails in your home. Definitely for stairs, but you may want to include them in your bathtub as well, and anywhere else that might be helpful, particularly if your father is unsteady on his feet.
Q: My doctors have prescribed me so many different pills to take, one for my heart, one for my head, etcetera, and it’s overwhelming. How do I manage it all?
A: With something called medication management. This would require you to hire a home health aid. They would come into your home and evaluate the medications you’re taking and make sure all are necessary by consulting with your prescribing physicians; when a patient has multiple doctors, often they are not aware of what their fellow physicians are prescribing for the same patient. This can be problematic – even life threatening in certain cases – if two or more medications are not meant to interact.
Q: I often forget to take my heart pill, do you have any suggestions?
A: Yes, one basic and really effective medication management tool is using a weekly pill box, with clearly marked individual encasements for each day of the week. That way, you don’t have to worry about keeping track; you just have to remember to refill it once a week. Having a home health aid can help with these types of things.
This information is for educational purposes. Please consult your physician for any medical issues. For more information about VNA services, call 321-752-7550 or visit www.vnatc.com.