When I think of fall prevention, the first things that come to mind are cleaning up clutter and putting up grab bars.
That’s why I was so surprised by what the Mayo Clinic lists as their top way to prevent falls.
It’s going to the doctor.
Why does this rise right to the top of their list for fall prevention?
Here’s how I understand their advice. Although clutter may be the immediate cause of a fall, or losing your balance in the bathtub can be saved by a grab bar, clutter and the slippery tub are not the “causes” of the falls. Rather, diminished balance, problems with gait, or other issues are the true cause, and the clutter is just the trigger.
Since you’re interested in getting a senior medical alert, you’re clearly worried about falls and other medical issues. But a PERS (Personal Emergency Response System) only helps after the emergency has happened.
It makes sense to trace the fall prevention problem back to its root. According to the Mayo Clinic, a doctor can analyze your list of medications to see if there are drug interactions that will make it more likely for you to fall. They can listen to your stories of almost falling (or of falling if you’ve done so already) and try to understand what’s happened that put you at risk. And they can do a physical exam to see what physical issues will make it harder for you to avoid falling.
Yes, it still makes sense to take other steps to prevent falls, but the Mayo Clinic’s advice is good.
Make an appointment with your physician to discuss fall prevention, and be sure to take a complete list of all medications with you.
And here’s another resource for understanding what causes falls.