Senior Living & Resources
Fall prevention: Risk factors and advice
The iconic line from the television commercial, "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up," has become embedded into the psyche of popular culture. As Baby Boomers age and begin to have more and more joint replacement surgeries, and as their parents advance in years, the fear of falling becomes more real and more frightening.
Did you know:
• Once a senior suffers from a fall, 40 percent are susceptible to recurring falls.
• Falls account for 85 percent of all injury-related hospitalizations.
• The most striking fact: most falls are preventable.
We want to prevent falls and the potentially devastating consequences, but first it is important to know the risk factors. People with at least one of the following risk factors are in danger of experiencing falls:
• History of previous falls
• Postural Hypotension (low blood pressure when in a standing position)
• Use of sedatives
•Use of at least four prescription medications
• Fear of falling
• Impairment in: arm or leg strength, balance, ability to move safely from bed to chair/bathroom/toilet, walking/gait.
My mother passed away in January of this year. One of the most frightening moments of our lives was when she attempted to get out of her hospital bed at home and fell, twisting her legs behind her, and falling onto her sharps container for her injectable meds.
When my sister found her, she had needles sticking into her legs and torso! Luckily she was not injured but we learned an important lesson: scan the environment for any potential hazards, no matter how remote they may seem.
Fall prevention protocol:
• Scan the environment for any potential hazards such as sharp objects that could possibly come in contact with the individual should they fall—place them out of harm's way
• Place necessary items within reach.
• Remove any environmental obstacle from the client's walkway, including unsecured rugs (secure or remove them).
• Place grab bars on bathroom walls near tub, shower and toilet.
• Use a cane or walker as necessary.
• Walk on grass when sidewalks are slick.
• Be sure that stairs are well lit and have rails on both sides.
• Use a non-skid bath mat in the shower or tub.
• Keep a flashlight next to your bed.
• Be sure that rooms are well-lit.
• Ensure that the individual has a means of calling for help within reach (cell phone, portable phone or a wireless communication device) — even a baby monitor can suffice as long as it is placed where others in the home can hear the call for assistance when there is a need to move about.
• Wear shoes with sturdy non-slip soles — including house slippers.
Consider having Nurse Next Door Oakland perform a QTUG assessment to determine your risk for falling based upon your gait. We provide this service at no charge. We want to keep clients safe, healthy and happy.
(Tracey Webb is director of business development, Nurse Next Door Oakland.)
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