My grandmother was a lively, caring, wonderful woman, who remained very active late in her life. One spring day, after an unusual April blizzard, she stepped out of her apartment on her way to her weekly bridge game. She fell on the ice, in an event that led to an open ankle fracture and changed the course of the remainder of her life.
We all know that a fall, especially in an elderly or frail person, can result in disaster. Major fall-related injuries such as hip fractures can sometimes precede abrupt decline in function and death in the worst cases. While many falls don’t result in any injury at all, when I discuss falls with my patients, I consider those events near misses and potentially catastrophic for any elderly or frail person.
Falls can have many causes, and often numerous factors contribute. Some factors can be modified by at-risk people, and some cannot. Discussing the mechanism and contributors to falls with one’s health care provider (or even better, a physical or occupational therapist) can help identify those factors. If a person can reduce their risk of fall and injury, by all means we want to help!