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Health & Exercise Forum


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Sep 16, 2020


Northeastern Pennsylvania is home to a large elderly population and many of the medical problems we expect to see are age related. Dedicated medical practitioners are in constant search for new knowledge and information to prevent or delay many age-related problems. One of the most devastating problems associated with aging is falling.

Loss of balance causes falls. Falls are a leading cause of injury and death. Thirty percent of women and thirteen percent of men over the age of sixty-five will fall. Twenty to thirty percent of these individuals suffer moderate to severe injuries. Preventing falls is not an easy task. A good understanding of the causes of loss of balance and knowledge of a few fall prevention suggestions can enhance your balance and reduce your risk of a fall.

The Falls Risk Self-Assessment below allows an individual to determine their risk of falling AND take the appropriate steps for prevention and treatment. The next three weeks will be dedicated to this topic to educate and inform readers and their families to make good decisions.

The Falls Risk Assessment is from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).


  1. I HAVE FALLEN IN THE PAST YEAR.  YES (2) NO (0) People who have fallen once are likely to fall again.
  1. I USE OR HAVE BEEN ADVISED TO USE A CANE OR WALKER TO GET AROUND SAFELY.  YES (2) NO (0) People who have been advised to use a cane or a walker may already be more likely to fall.
  1. SOMETIMES I FEEL UNSTEADY WHEN I AM WALKING. YES (1) NO (0) Unsteadiness or needing support while walking are signs of poor balance.
  1. I STEADY MYSELF BY HOLDING ONTO FURNITURE WHEN WALKING AT HOME.                YES (1) NO (0) This is also a sign of poor balance.
  1. I AM WORRIED ABOUT FALLING.   YES (1) NO (0) People who are worried about falling are more likely to fall.
  1. I NEED TO PUSH WITH MY HANDS TO STAND UP FROM A CHAIR.  YES (1) NO (0) This is a sign of weak leg muscles, a major reason for falling.
  1. I HAVE SOME TROUBLE STEPPING UP ONTO A CURB.   YES (1) NO (0) This is also a sign of weak leg muscles.
  1. I OFTEN HAVE TO RUSH TO THE TOILET.  YES (1) NO (0) Rushing to the bathroom, especially at night, increases your chance of falling.
  1. I HAVE LOST SOME FEELING IN MY FEET.  YES (1) NO (0) Numbness in your feet can cause stumbles and lead to falls.
  1. I TAKE MEDICINE THAT SOMETIMES MAKES ME FEEL LIGHT-HEADED OR MORE TIRED THAN USUAL. YES (1) NO (0) Side effects from medicines can sometimes increase your chance of falling.                       
  1. I TAKE MEDICINE TO HELP ME SLEEP OR IMPROVE MY MOOD. YES (1) NO (0) These medicines can sometimes increase your chance of falling.
  1. I OFTEN FEEL SAD OR DEPRESSED. YES (1) NO (0) Symptoms of depression, such as not feeling well or feeling slowed down, are linked to falls.


Add up the number of points for each YES answer. If you have scored 4 or more points you may be at risk for falling. Accordingly, 0-1 = Low Risk; 1-2 = Moderate Risk; 3-4 =  At Risk; 4-5 = High Risk; 5-6 = Urgent; > 6 = Severe

Low    Moderate     At Risk     High Risk   Urgent   Severe

0          1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8         

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”   Next Monday Part I of III on Balance Disorders and Falls Prevention

Read all of Dr. Mackarey's articles at

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate clinical professor of medicine at GCSOM.