Falling is the biggest safety issue for elderly clients. Many older people experience dizziness related to: vision or hearing impairments, medication side effects, or sudden changes in blood pressure. Dizziness related to a sudden drop in blood pressure is called orthostatic hypotension and occurs most often when the individual is moving from a lying down or sitting position to an upright or standing position.
In a recently published article entitled, “Minimize Fall Risk in Elderly Clients,” author and expert, Julie Goodwin, writes:
“As caring massage professionals, we feel a special responsibility to be mindful of potential risks for our vulnerable elder clients. The closeness that often develops places us in a position to offer assistance in valuable ways, such as working with them to minimize some of the risks faced by elders,” adding that one of the greatest risks is the increased possibility of falls.
“Data from geriatric physicians suggests that a single fall can initiate a spiral of events that culminates in death within a year of the fall. In such a scenario—which I have observed in my own elder clientele—the fall has traumatic physical and emotional repercussions,” she writes.
Respect the elderly client’s slower pace by allowing ample time for tasks such as conducting the intake interview, explaining procedures during each visit, removing and donning clothing, inquiring about and responding to comfort measures such as a request for a blanket, and getting on and off the massage table.
“Factors that increase the fall risk in elderly clients, even those without chronic health conditions, include age-related atrophy of skeletal muscle tissue, brittleness of joint-supporting ligaments, and shrinking of articular surfaces in weight-bearing joints, all contributing to less certain balance,” Goodwin writes.