Is your elderly mother at risk for falls?

Today’s post is part of our ongoing series, The Encompass Way. Here, we’ll go over many of the steps involved in setting up a comprehensive care plan, which helps us to provide seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available care options and helps them maneuver through the challenges of the system.

elder fallsThe following test — which we call the “Get Up and Go Test” — is an assessment that should be conducted as part of a routine evaluation when dealing with older persons. Its purpose is to detect “fallers” and to identify those who need evaluation.

Senior care professionals should be trained to perform the “Get Up and Go Test” at check-in and query those with gait or balance problems for falls. Below is what they’ll be looking for.

Initial Check

All older persons who report a single fall should be observed in the following exercises:

  • From a sitting position, stand without using their arms for support.
  • Walk several paces, turn, and return to the chair.
  • Sit back in the chair without using their arms for support.

Individuals who have difficulty or demonstrate unsteadiness performing this test require further assessment.

Follow-Up Assessment

In the follow-up assessment, ask the person to:

  • Sit.
  • Stand without using their arms for support.
  • Close their eyes for a few seconds while standing in place.
  • Stand with eyes closed while you push gently on his or her sternum.
  • Walk a short distance and come to a complete stop.
  • Turn around and return to the chair.
  • Sit in the chair without using their arms for support.

While conducting the test, pay attention to any abnormal movements. As you observe, answer the questions below.

Follow-Up Assessment Observations

  • Is the person steady and balanced when sitting upright?
  • Is the person able to stand with their arms folded?
  • When standing, is the person steady in narrow stance?
  • With eyes closed, does the person remain steady?
  • When nudged, does the person recover without difficulty?
  • Does the person start walking without hesitancy?
  • When walking, does each foot clear the floor well?
  • Is there step symmetry, with the steps equal in length and regular?
  • Does the person take continuous, regular steps?
  • Does the person walk straight without a walking aid?
  • Does the person stand with heels close together?
  • Is the person able to sit safely and judge distance correctly?

The more you answer “no” to the above questions, the greater your loved one’s risk is for falling.

Currently serving Omaha and surrounding areas, all Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today for help with your senior care needs.

Photo credit: Alex E. Proimos via photopin cc

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.encompass-assessments.com.”