Falls and Seniors – Critical Issue

We are completing an in-service training cycle for our Home Care Aides at Support For Home, right now.  If you want a logistical nightmare, try scheduling training sessions for caregivers from four or five different counties in the greater Sacramento, California area that do not conflict with any of their schedules serving our seniors and other home care clients and patients.  🙂

One of the major topics of this training cycle is fall prevention and responding to falls when they do happen.  Our Director of Nursing could do the training, but we love to bring in folks from outside with whom we work to provide the medical and non-clinical care our patients and clients need.  This time, we have several great hospice agencies and two terrific emergency medical services companies participating in the training program.  The material they are sharing is so good and so important that, as I often do, I am “stealing with pride” to share some of it with you.

First, some statistics:

  • More than 5% of emergency medical services (EMS) calls are related to falls by the elderly
  • 93% of seniors who do fall need to be transported to an emergency room, after paramedic evaluation
  • Falls are the leading cause of geriatric injury deaths – 47%
  • Every year, 1/3 of adults 65 years of age and older falls
  • 47% of injuries for falling seniors is to the hip or pelvis
  • 20% of fall related deaths among elders happens in long-term care facilities (LTCFs), even though only 5% of elders live in LTCFs
  • Environmental hazards (wet floors, poor lighting, clutter, …) account for up to 27% of falls in LTCFs — in other words, they are AVOIDABLE!

So, what do seniors – and their caregivers – need to work on, to prevent falls or lessen the potential danger?

  • “Fallproof” your environment – or that of the person for whom you provide care
    • Eliminate uneven floors, patios, walkways
    • Eliminate loose rugs that can slide or bunch up
    • Ensure proper lighting for indoor and outdoor areas – including motion sensors, where appropriate
    • Eliminate all clutter
    • Broken or unstable furniture needs to be removed / fixed
    • Make sure railings and grab/grip bars are where they should be and solid
    • If pets are present, make sure they are well trained!
    • Eliminate the need for elders to use stairs – stair lifts are a great device, where stairs exist
    • Use secured shower curtain rods and curtains, not glass on showers
    • Especially for seniors with Osteoporosis, hip pads can help prevent hip and pelvis injuries in falls
  • If you are a senior, fallproof yourself, if possible, by exercising your sense of balance
    • Just as your heart and other muscles need exercise, your ability to balance does – find safe exercises that “stress” your balance to improve it

Fall prevention is one of the most critical aspects of being a safe senior and of providing care to one.  If you need help finding good exercises or assessment tools for making yourself or a loved one or a professional client safe from falls, let us know.  It should be part the a comprehensive plan of care for all elders, whether it is self- or family- or professional care.

Best wishes.  Bert


One response to “Falls and Seniors – Critical Issue

  1. A good way to get the message to the elderly that these tips to prevent falls is by encouragement and helping them understand why it’s important to make changes to better their quality of life. By achieving this we can convince even the most stubborn people who still find a need for those loose rugs on the floor. 🙂
    Great Article Bert


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