Fall Prevention: Making Loved Ones Aware of the Risks
Taking care of older family members or being a caretaker, whether in the home or a facility, means keeping them safe and helping them stay independent.
Did you know that every year, one in every three adults over the age of 65 falls, which can lead to injuries such as hip fractures, head trauma and lacerations? These injuries can negatively impact an older person’s health and independence.
Fortunately, falls can be largely preventable both in the home and in the facility.
What Can Older Adults Do To Help Prevent Falls?
- Check your vision.
Have your eyes examined by an eye doctor at least once a year to ensure your vision is normal and, if not, that you are using the proper eyeglasses.
- Review medications.
Ask your pharmacist and physician to review all medication being taken to ensure there are no interactions or side effects that can cause dizziness or other adverse reactions.
- Exercise regularly.
Controlling your balance and leg strength can be challenging as you get older. Exercise can help improve these, keeping you mobile and more independent.
- Eliminate home hazards.
Evaluate your home and/or facility and try to reduce any potential trip hazards such as rugs with lifted edges, power cords etc.
It is important for you or your caregiver to assess your patient or loved one to determine if additional safety products are needed for fall prevention. Helping to reduce the risk of falling is a great way to keep yourself or them healthy and independent as long as possible.
If you notice that you or your loved one is having difficulty walking, standing up from a seated position, or is holding onto walls and furniture while walking, it may be time to see a physical therapist and/or use an assistive device for daily activities.
Aids for Fall Prevention
According to the National Institute of Aging (NIA), 80% of falls occur in the bathroom. It is important for you or your loved one to know how to get in and out of a bathtub, and to have the necessary safety products to help and support against the many slippery surfaces in a bathroom. Some of these recommended safety products include:
- Grab bars and bathtub safety rails can provide support while entering, exiting, and using a tub
- Non-slip rubber mats in the shower/bath and around the sink
- A bath seat and transfer bench can help your loved one or patient shower comfortably
It is also important to keep the bathroom well lit with easy-to-access lights.
Graham-Field’s heavy duty steel grab bars have rust resistant finishes, and are available in chrome plated, brushed nickel, or white enamel finish.
Aging can affect a senior’s ability to safely move around both inside and outside the home. Decreasing balance and strength, or feeling unsteady on their feet, are signs that someone may benefit from a mobility aid. And because there are various levels of support that may be needed, there are different options available for you or your loved ones.
- A cane can be used if a person can show they still maintain a good balance and need minimal support. These should be used when a person needs to place significant weight on the walker for balance and support.
- If a patient still has good balance, and doesn’t necessarily need full weight-bearing assistance, a rollator can be used to give them speed of movement yet provide some level of support while walking.
Having a physical therapist or caregiver discuss the importance and benefits of a mobility aid and being involved in the decision will make it easier for you to make this transition.
Seniors can also experience debilitating falls in the bedroom, so safety in the bedroom is equally important.
It is important to have access to a bedside light and to maintain a clear path from the bed to the bathroom or any other well-used route. Some products to consider in the bedroom:
- Bed rails. These are designed to help you get in and out of bed as well as provide bed perimeter protection.
- Fall pads. A fall pad can help reduce injury for someone who is prone to rolling out of bed. These are ideal for both home and facility use.
- Patient alarms. Alarms are designed to let your caretaker or loved one know if you have fallen out of a wheelchair or bed.
Falls are not an inevitable part of life as you get older. You can take action to prevent falls, and some solutions are inexpensive and easy to install. It is important to remember that the more you do to prevent falls, the longer you can continue to live safely and independently in your home.
Cynthia Counts is Vice President of Product Management & Homecare SBU at Graham-Field.
About GF Health Products, Inc.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with more than 300 US-based employees, GF Health Products, Inc. is a major manufacturer of healthcare products for the acute care, extended care, homecare and primary care markets. The Graham-Field family of brands includes Basic American Medical Products, Everest & Jennings, Grafco, Hausted, John Bunn, Labtron, Lumex and Lumiscope. Visit www.grahamfield.com or call 770-368-4700.