Visiting the Doctor
If someone you care about is 65 years old or older, remind him or her that their doctor should consider their risk for falls at least once each year. But they should not wait until the doctor asks them about their fall risk. A person, particularly someone who is elderly, should tell his or her doctor about anytime they have fallen, whether or not they were hurt.
Falling or almost falling gives a doctor important information about a person's health. Falls do not always mean that a person is getting weaker. Someone can fall as a side effect of the medicines that he or she is taking or how much of those medicines they take.
Changes in eyesight can also make a person more likely to fall. It is important to tell the doctor if the person was wearing glasses or contacts when he or she fell. It's also important to share information on the last time the person had an eye exam. The doctor may also ask you what time the person fell because eye problems can make seeing clearly harder at night, for example.
If the doctor asks about the person's house it is because sometimes there are things that can be done to make a house safer-even if it is just increasing the watts of light bulbs to 100 to make things easier to see. He or she may also ask what the person was doing when he or she fell. Simple changes like moving pots and pans or dishes in cabinets can make a fall less likely. The doctor may also ask about any pets and talk about safety. The question is not whether to keep the pets, but what can be done to live together safely.
For your convenience, we have developed a form that someone can fill out and take to his or her next doctor’s visit. It has the information needed to help a doctor make a decision about what may be causing the falls and what can be done about it. Remember, many falls are preventable. Helping elderly people staying on their feet and preventing falls helps them stay at home.