A person of any age can experience a fall. However, falls in the elderly could be symptomatic of underlying medical conditions. Here are some of the instances where a fall should be checked by a medical practitioner.
Problems With Eyesight
The elderly are more prone to failing eyesight and other problems with their vision. They need to be tested annually in case of age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, presbyopia, dry eyes, temporal arteritis, and cataracts. Treatments can delay or resolve eye problems if caught in time.
As many problems with eyesight have no initial symptoms, the best prevention is regular checks with an optometrist. These tests are even more critical if the person has diabetes.
Vitamin D Deficiencies
Interestingly, a deficiency of Vitamin D can play a role in falls in adults over 65 years of age. Supplementation of this vitamin can also strengthen fragile bones. Not getting enough sunlight can also increase the chances of being deficient.
A doctor needs to prescribe Vitamin D. The amount required may require the person to be closely monitored in the beginning. A dose of 800-1000 IU is recommended for maintenance once levels have stabilized while an initial dose may be much higher.
Side Effects OF Medication
According to studies, an elderly person who takes five or more different medicines has an increased risk of falling. Some medications, even taken alone, can add to this danger. In general, opiates for pain, sleeping tablets and tranquilizers, diabetes medicines, antipsychotics for dementia, and anticholinergic medication may all contribute to falls.
Having a doctor check the medications a patient is on and discontinuing any that are no longer needed could help reduce the incidence of falls. This could require more frequent monitoring by a family member or obtaining the assistance of services such as Cooperative Homecare overnight nurse care that can prevent you from becoming exhausted from looking after the patient day and night.
Blood tests may be needed to weed out conditions that make falls more likely. This should include a complete blood count (CBC), a kidney function test, and a check of electrolytes. Here is a full list of blood tests that are useful for assessing the well-being of the elderly. Not all of these tests will reveal the cause of a fall but they remain valuable as a health checklist.
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can cause falls. Blood tests don’t adequately identify these cases so if you have kept a blood sugar log or the results of a glucometer, these should be shown to the doctor.
Results of a full blood count may reveal an infection, anemia, or something amiss with the bone marrow. With an infection, white blood cells will increase from fighting against it. On the other hand, red cells are lower than they should be with anemia, as well as the hematocrit and hemoglobin readings. In the case of bone marrow, several measurements will be too low, including white and red cells and the platelet count. Sometimes a medication may affect the results and need to be reconsidered.
Blood Pressure And Pulse
If you suspect that an elderly relative has fallen due to fainting or feeling light-headed, it is important to test the blood pressure and pulse levels. This should be done while sitting and standing.
Doctors tend to only test for this a third of the time a patient is brought in after a fall. Be sure to ask for it.
The elderly often struggle to recover after a fall and everything possible should be done to prevent it by assessing the risks and taking measures to lower them.