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Among Americans aged 65 and older, one in four falls each year. It’s a danger that increases with the natural aging process: growing older comes with changes to mobility, balance, visual acuity, muscle strength, and medication, all of which can increase the likelihood of falls. Seniors and their families should take falls seriously, and a Fall Risk Calculator can help.
Below, you’ll find a fall risk calculator based on the Morse Fall Scale. While it should not replace an in-person assessment, it can give seniors and their loved ones a better understanding of their condition and information they can take to their health care provider.
Please note that the information presented in our Fall Risk Calculatoris for supporting older adults and their families as they converse with each other and healthcare professionals. Our Calculator does not substitute a patient’s relationship with their healthcare provider and should not replace medical advice.
Falls are dangerous, and even after recovery can lead to long-lasting health risks. According to the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, almost half of fall-related deaths among those 65 and older involved a head injury. For less severe fall-related injuries like bone fractures and breaks, the treatment, recovery, and rehabilitation is still complicated for elderly individuals. Their age-related frailty and pre-existing medical conditions also negatively impact how seniors overcome fall-related injuries.
Hospitalization after a fall comes with risks, too. Because the recovery times are longer, seniors could experience lengthy hospital stays. When they recover from a fall, the seniors can still be incapable of caring for themselves. They could require admission to rehabilitation or long-term care facilities that can accommodate their new limitations. Even if a senior can move back home, it’s likely they’ll reduce their activity levels out of the fear they’ll have another incident; this can negatively impact their mental well-being.
For all these reasons, regular fall risk assessments are highly recommended for adults 65 and over – for instance, the American Geriatric Society recommends that they get a fall risk assessment every year. As an opening measurement, many in the healthcare field use a simple method called the Morse Fall Scale.
Widely used in both hospitals and long-term care facilities, the Morse Fall Scale predicts the risk of falling among seniors. It bases this likelihood on the patient’s fall history, gait, and other risk factors. By determining the risk among their elderly patients, health care teams can work to recommend and enact prevention measures.
The Morse Fall Scale looks at six variables:
Health care facilities can use the total score to predict future falls, but it is more important to identify risk factors using the scale and then plan care to address them.
If you have an elderly loved one and want to learn more about their fall risk, you can help them fill out the Morse Fall Scale calculations. It could help them as they speak to their primary care physician.
History of falling (during a present hospital admission or an immediate history)
Secondary diagnosis (more than two medical diagnoses in the past / on their chart)
Bed rest/nurse assist 0
Intravenous therapy/heparin lock inserted
Weak gait 10
Impaired gait 20
Oriented to own ability 0
Overestimates or forgets limitations 15
Total Score: ______________
Once you have all the factors weighed, tally them up:
If there’s a risk of falling, you might want to change how your loved one lives. Some tactics include:
If you need help making the best choice for your at-risk loved one, let the team at SonderCare help!
Many fall risk scores are calculated by comparing demographic, medical, and functional characteristics. In order to determine the fall risk score, these factors are scored and weighted according to their relationship to fall risk. The scores are then summed up to determine the overall fall risk score. The exact factors and scoring method will vary depending on the tool being used. Fall risk assessments take into account a number of factors, including age, history of falls, medication use, cognitive impairment, and mobility problems.
An individual with a low fall risk score indicates they are in less immediate danger of falling injury. The exact threshold for a “good” score varies according to the fall risk assessment tool used. In general, scores that fall into the low-risk range (below a certain threshold) indicate good fall risk, whereas scores falling into the moderate- or high-risk range indicate a greater risk of falling. A comprehensive fall risk assessment, which includes a comprehensive medical, functional, and environmental evaluation of the patient, should be conducted in conjunction with fall risk scores.
This fall risk assessment tool, the Morse Fall Scale (MFS), is used to identify patients at increased risk of falling in acute care settings. There are 14 items in the questionnaire, each of which is scored based on a series of questions. A 3-point scale is used to score each item, with higher scores indicating a greater risk of falling. Items are grouped into three categories: demographics, medical factors, and functional factors. As a result of the summation of all scores, the overall fall risk score is calculated. MFS is an easy-to-use tool that does not take into account environmental factors that may contribute to falls, but it is simple and quick to use. It ranges from 0 to 28, with higher scores indicating a higher risk.
The following five steps are typically involved in a falls risk assessment:
Assess gait, balance, and mobility of the patient after gathering information about their medical history, including previous falls and chronic conditions.
Analyze the environment in which the patient lives and identify any hazards that may contribute to a patient’s fall risk.
The primary goal of functional assessment is to determine the patient’s ability to perform activities of daily living, including strength, range of motion, and activity of daily living abilities.
Identify any medications that may contribute to fall risk through a medication review.
An analysis of the risk factors that may contribute to the patient’s fall risk should be conducted after the information collected in the previous steps has been gathered.
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