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Q&A: More On Fall Risks

My mother will soon be moving in with me so that she will have some company as she ages. I’m keen to ensure that she doesn’t sustain a fall over the next few years, and have taken steps to “fall-proof” my home, but are there any “clues” my mother herself might provide about her fall risk?

It is wise to think ahead when it comes to making sure your mother will be safe in your home, and the modifications you have made also will keep you safer as you age. As to “clues” that your mother may be at risk of falling, the main one is having already suffered a fall. If she has, she will be at risk of subsequent falls, particularly if her previous fall was within the last six months. Other red flags include her holding on to furniture or walls while walking, having difficulty rising from a sitting position, and dizziness. Current use of multiple medications also makes her vulnerable, as do some specific drugs (including blood pressure drugs and sleep drugs). If she will be transferring to a new doctor when she moves in with you, I recommend she takes any medications she currently uses to her first appointment so that her doctor can check whether they might increase her fall risk.

You also may want to run through a few questions with your mother—for example, ask her if she ever feels unsteady on her feet, feels like the room is spinning around her, feels like she is moving when she knows she is standing still, or feels lightheaded and/or as if she might faint. Questions like these won’t only provide you with insight—they also may help your mother more realistically evaluate her fall risk.

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