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Senior Health

Frequent falling age 85

06/02/2008

Question:

My mother is 85 and has frequent falling sometimes twice or more a day. She has met with the doctor and tests were ordered but all came back ok. She lives alone and uses a walker. The doctor said she needs to look into assisted living but being so stuborn she refuses. The doctor said he is stepping in now and sending someone out for an assessment. I want her to be able to enjoy the years she has left in a comfortable and safe environment without her falling and really hurting herself. I live 1/2 hour away and also work and can`t always be available. What can be done from here to get her the help she needs? Thank you

Answer:

It is not within normal aging for older people to fall. It appears your doctor has concerns and is sending someone to assess your Mother in her own living space. It is helpful to look at the living environment to evaluate how the home is supportive or not supportive of older people. It would also be advisable to continue to have your Mother's physical and functional status, along with medications, vision, cognitive status, musculoskeletal function and any other fall-related causes assessed by health professionals with a specialty in care of older adults. If your Mother is falling twice daily on average, there must be a cause or combination of causes that result in these falls.

The home visit by a professional will provide some information that the physician may need in order to offer further opinions,diagnosis, and advice regarding your Mother's situation. Assisted living would probably be an option, but does not ensure that the falls will cease. Falling in older people provides a challenge for health care professionals and may be a combination of causes. It may be necessary to consult a variety of health care providers to discover what is causing the falls beyond the testing that has already been done and how to help your mother maintain her safety while living in her own home. Your mother's physician is the primary health care provider and is in a position to collaborate with other disciplines (neurology, physical therapy, nursing, home health) to contribute assessment information regarding your mother's falls to assist in discovering the cause of the falls and how best to help you help your mother. Most of us like to live in our own homes but sometimes we need more support from care providers to stay home. Assisted living is only one option.

You may wish to contact your local Council on Aging for more information and assistance in working with your mother on the best options to keep her safe and secure, either in her own home or in more supportive environment such as Adult Day Services, Assisted Living, as well as Nursing home care should it be necessary.

Council on Aging and other Aging Services and Resources are usually found in your local telephone directory on online web sites.

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Response by:

Evelyn L Fitzwater, DSN, RN Evelyn L Fitzwater, DSN, RN
Associate Professor Emerita
Associate Director of the
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati