Since one of the biggest threats to people 65 and older is a bad fall, mobility is a very important concern. Gait and balance, personal strength all are pivotal in walking (and pivoting). Safety is paramount as a fall can lead to a fracture, pain, hospitalization, rehab, complications and possibly, a life altering situation.
Assessing mobility is usually done by looking, watching and observing the person walk, and thereby detecting any concerns about balance and gait. If problems are noted, then physical therapy, the addition of a cane or walker can help. Physical Therapy (usually covered by Medicare A at home or B as outpatient), can restore functioning and thereby reduce the chance of falling.
A trained professional, nurse, physical or occupational therapist will use assessment tools like the Tinetti Balance and Gait Evaluation which can be done easily and doen’t take much time. The skilled evaluator is looking at how the person sits up, stands without using armrests, stands, walks straight for ten feet, turns around to return to the chair and is seated. Balance, pace, stability and being able to turn are all examined to see how they are performed.
These are the basics of evaluating a person’s mobility. A friend, spouse, son or daughter can do this. If you notice unsteadiness, staggering, wobbliness of knees, unsure steps, difficulty standing or sitting back down, then you should have the person evaluated by their doctor and then the appropriate care plan can be assigned.
Even if you have had Physical Therapy before, a “tune-up” can be very useful. The dangers associated with falls are well known. A common injury resulting from a fall can be a hip fracture or broken wrist or shoulder. Boca Home Care can help you with our excellent PT department.
Prevention is the key here. Safety over vanity. Certainly if you or a parent has Parkinson’s Disease, MS, Hip or Knee Surgery or other medical condition which will effect balance and gait, consult with their doctor for a more specialized care plan. If you or they need a cane or walker, there are many types to choose from. Your PT can help you select and train the best type for you to use.
So, next time you see your elderly parents or aging loved one, go through the “steps” of a simple observatory evaluation with them. Or just watch them as they sit down, get up, walk, bend, reach or get in or out of a car. If they are resistant to help, deny the need, then speak to their doctor.
For more information on Fall Prevention: http://www.bocahomecareservices.com/resources-for-the-elderly/elderly-fall-prevention-safety-tips/
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