Some seniors think that as long as they exercise, their risk of falling is low. But the truth is that other factors like poor sight and hearing, medication and even insomnia can also add to the risk. To assess the fall risk of seniors and to educate them before accidents happen, Alexandra Health System has started a falls assessment programme that screens residents living in the North either referred to them by the Community Nurse Posts at the Wellness Centre @ Nee Soon South and Chong Pang Social Service Hub and public call-ins for appointments. The session gives the nurse a chance not only to assess the senior’s risk, but to share with them the things they could do to lower it. 70-year-old Mdm Grace Seah thought she would give it a try as she had felt unsteady. She thought it might be because of her weak knees or insomnia.
The test starts with the nurse taking readings of Mdm Seah’s vital signs like blood pressure and pulse rate followed by simple questions about her health. Next, a series of tests to check Mdm Seah’s strength, reflexes and visual acuity.
Good arm strength suggests a strong body so this is a good gauge for frailty.
Mdm Seah has to click on the mouse each time the giant button on screen lights up. No problem at all.
Mdm Seah also has no problems matching the symbol in her hand with the one she saw in the nurse’s card
Next come the practical assessments.
How far can Mdm Seah reach while standing in position? 320 millimetres or 32 centimetres. That puts her in the safe range.
As a test of balance, Mdm Seah has to keep still with both her feet on the ground but in different positions. After that, the test to assess her walking speed.
Finally the tough one – Mdm Seah had to get up from a sitting position and sit down again, all the time with her arms folded across her chest.
The last drill requires Mdm Seah to walk around the yellow cone. No sweat at all!
Mdm Seah found the assessment useful. She said, “All along, I thought it was my knees that were giving me problems because I can’t squat easily and when I do, I find it hard to get up. But now that the nurse says it could be my back, I might want to schedule some physiotherapy appointments to learn the right way to exercise my back.
To find out more about the Falls Assessment Programme, please call 6555 8000.
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