A new online tool is now available that allows older adults to evaluate their risk of falling. Offered by the National Council on Aging, the Falls Free CheckUp asks 13 yes-or-no questions to help older adults check their risk of falling and take steps to reduce that risk. Questions include if you’ve fallen in the past year, are worried about falling and are unsteady when walking.
Following the questionnaire, the individual is given a score showing their risk of falling in addition to recommended next steps, such as fall-prevention tips or advice to speak with a doctor. The tool provides the ability to sign up for reminders to take the checkup again in six months or schedule an appointment with a doctor.
“Regular checkups are an important way to stay healthy as we age—and that includes checking your risk for a fall,” said Kathleen Cameron, senior director at NCOA’s Center for Healthy Aging, in a press release. “Falls threaten older adults’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging. The Falls Free CheckUp makes it easy to learn your risk and discover steps to reduce it.”
Falls threaten older adults’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging.
Falls are the leading cause of injury and death in people over 65, according to the CDC. More than a fourth of Americans in this age group fall each year, and falls in older adults result in more than 3 million injuries treated in emergency departments each year.
The questions included in the online tool were adapted from the CDC’s Stay Independent Checklist. The Falls Free CheckUp was developed with support from the CDC, Amgen and NORC at the University of Chicago.
The rollout of the new tool comes before Falls Prevention Awareness Week, Sept. 18 to 24. The NCOA sponsors this week “to spotlight the prevalence and cost of falls among older adults, as well as evidence-based falls prevention programs and steps individuals can take to reduce their risk.”
This year, the theme of the week is strengthening community connections in fall prevention. Throughout the week, community-based organizations and health care providers will share the Falls Free CheckUp in addition to providing in-person screening and other information to help older adults reduce fall risk.
“An important aspect of aging well and living a healthy life is identifying and addressing risk factors,” Dr. Lisa Waddell, MD, MPH, chief medical officer for the CDC Foundation, said in a press release. “Falls Prevention Awareness Week is a great time to remind older adults that there are steps they can take to stay safer and reduce their risk of injury.”
In addition to using the Falls Free CheckUp tool, the CDC provides other advice for avoiding falls:
- Speak with your loved one’s doctor about fall prevention and tell them if they’ve fallen, are afraid of falling, or feel unsteady.
- Review medications with your older adult’s doctor or pharmacist and discuss side effects like feeling dizzy or sleepy. Some medicines can increase the risk of falling.
- Have your senior’s eyes checked regularly.
- Have their feet checked and encourage them to wear proper footwear.
- Encourage your loved one to stay active and complete exercises to improve balance and leg strength, such as tai chi.
- Keep their living area clean and floors free of clutter.
- Eliminate fall hazards in the home by adding grab bars to the bathroom and handrails and lights to staircases.