I've recently started a comprehensive education and prevention effort in my Houston podiatry practice relating to falls in the elderly. Falls are common in the elderly population, with over 30% of women over age 65 and men over 80 suffering a fall. Accidents are a leading cause of death in the elderly, accounting for more deaths than pneumonia. Falls account for half of the deaths attributed to accidents. Even when a fall doesn't result in death, the results are often devastating. Broken hips, pelvis, collar bones, arms, and more, many of which require surgery and rehabilitation afterward.

We have been recommending a fall risk analysis for the elderly patients in my practice. The assessment does not take much time and is not strenuous. It also is included in the typical Medicare office visit, so does not require additional charges. There is little reason to not have the assessment done.

I recently visited with one of my regular patients who was telling me that he was feeling unsteady and thought maybe he should use a cane. I told him about our efforts and the fall risk analysis. He felt that he wasn't "that far gone" yet. It got me thinking about what is too far gone.

I am sure that many feel that until their first fall, they feel that they are okay. No one likes to admit that they're getting older and unsteady on their feet. Waiting for that first fall is a tremendous mistake. Falls can quickly and dramatically effect mobility and limit future activity. The consequences also go beyond physical. If someone has memory issues, it is not uncommon to notice a dramatic decrease in memory and mental function after a fall.

It is vital to protect yourself and your loved ones. If you are starting to feel less steady when you are walking come to our Houston podiatry office for a fall risk analysis. If you are at risk for falls, we can work on a strategy to help restore your balance and confidence. If you watch your parents and grandparents and notice they are become more unsteady, bring them in. You'll be doing your family a favor by ensuring they remain safe in the future.
Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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