Reducing the Risk of Falling
Thousands of older adults die from fall injuries every year, and about two million are treated for non-fatal fall injuries in emergency departments.1 Simple home modifications and exercises that improve strength and balance can help reduce the risk of falling.2
Ask three simple screening questions:
- Have you fallen in the last year?
- Do you feel unsteady when standing or walking?
- Do you worry about falling?
If patients answer “Yes” to any of these questions, think about using the CDC STEADI (Stopping the Elderly Accidents, Deaths and Injuries) toolkit. Talk with SCAN for toolkit training or you can download the toolkit from the CDC website to get some useful materials for both you and your patients.3
- Provide patients and caregivers with a home environment checklist to ensure safety measures are in place.
- Review footwear (no bare feet or socks) for appropriate fit and use.
- Identify need for DME and prescribe as appropriate with instructions for fitting and use.
- Conduct a medication review with Some medications or combinations of medications (especially psychotropic medications) can have side effects, such as dizziness or drowsiness – increasing fall risk.
- Encourage annual eye exams and regular prescription updates for glasses/contact lenses.
- Consider referral to an occupational therapist for home safety evaluation and modification and encourage exercise, specifically those that increase leg strength and balance.
Coding and Documentation Guidance
- Document plan of care developed to prevent falls.
- Document recent falls or risk of falling and code accordingly, including referral to a physical therapist and/or home health for fall risk and home assessment.
1One in three adults over age 64 falls every year.
3Go to the cdc.gov website at https://www.cdc.gov/steadi/patient.html to download these materials. Some of these materials are useful for printing and displaying in your office.