Diagnosis & Tests
Evaluating a Fall or Risk of Falling
At your next exam talk with your healthcare provider about fall risks. Describe any falls or close calls you have had. This is especially important if you have had two or more falls in the past twelve months, or if you have trouble walking.
Your provider will want to know what caused you to fall. They will ask:
- What were you doing when you fell?
- How did you feel before the fall? For example, were you dizzy or lightheaded?
- Did you lose consciousness (awareness)?
- When and where did the fall happen?
- How many times have you fallen in the past year?
- Are you worried about falling?
- What is your environment like?
Your healthcare provider will examine your gait and balance first, and ask you about fall risks. They may recommend that a specialist examine you.
If you have falls risks, the provider will find out your health history and do a physical exam that covers:
- Ability to carry out daily activities
- Blood pressure and postural hypotension (low blood pressure when you stand up)
- Heart rate and rhythm
- Vision and hearing
- Muscle strength and tone, any joint stiffness or arthritis
- Reflexes and nerve health
- Review of medications taken and alcohol use
Other things your healthcare professional may ask include:
- Foot health and footwear
- New or chronic illnesses
- Fear of falling
- Memory and brain functioning
- Risks in the home and other environments
The healthcare provider may also ask for or do:
- Blood and urine tests to check for things that can affect fall risks, such as infection, dehydration (not enough fluids), anemia, or high blood sugar levels.
- Simple tests of mobility and balance.
- Bone densitometry (to assess bone strength).
- Heart tests if you have had dizziness, fainting, or other symptoms.
- Brain imaging if a head injury or nerve problems are possible.
- Drug levels if medications might be at toxic levels.
- Memory testing.
- Physical therapy assessment.
- A home safety evaluation.
Last Updated January 2023
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