Reduce Your Fall Risk
As we roll into 2021, it's time to start planning New Year's resolutions. You may have been advised to lose weight. Or you may have been challenged to exercise, or exercise more than you currently do. No matter which goals you choose to tackle, reducing your fall risk should be high on your list of must-dos in 2021.
Falls can be common for those aged 65 and older. Some factors that can increase one's fall risk include:
- Reduced eyesight
- Reduced hearing/balance loss due to hearing issues
- Chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, thyroid problems
- Previous falls
- Reduced muscle tone
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Medications that cause dizziness. Some research shows that if you take four or more medications, your chances of falling increase greatly
- Lack of stair handrails
- Dim lighting
- Slippery or uneven surfaces
- Fear of falling
We highly encourage you to focus on reducing your fall risk. You can do this by taking advantage of Medicare’s Initial Preventive Physical Examination (IPPE) or Annual Wellness Visit (AWV).
You and your provider will develop or update a personalized prevention plan and perform a health risk assessment. The IPPE is covered only once within 12 months of your initial Part B entitlement date. The AWV is covered once every 12 months for people who are no longer within 12 months of their initial Part B entitlement date and who have not received an IPPE or AWV within the past 12 months. For both the IPPE and the AWV, you pay nothing (if your provider accepts assignment).
One component of the IPPE or AWV specifically focuses on your functional ability and level of safety. This is when your provider will use direct observation, or they may select appropriate questions from various available screening questionnaires or standardized questionnaires to assess (at a minimum) the following topics:
- Your ability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
- Your fall risk
- Your hearing to determine if you have any impairments
- Your overall home safety
Minimizing your fall risk is critical. To learn more, you can review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s "Risk Factors for Falls" Fact Sheet (PDF, 167 KB).
Additional information is available through the National Institute on Aging. You can access the article "Prevent Falls and Fractures" on their website. This article contains information on factors that can lead to falls, as well as what to do if you fall.
If you have any questions about the IPPE or the AWV, you can call our Beneficiary Contact Center at 800-833-4455, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. We encourage you to sign up for email updates. To do so, click "Listservs" on the top banner on this website to start the process.
We also encourage you to visit our MyRRMedicare Facebook page.