According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-third of older adults age 65 and older fall each year. Falls can be devastating to an older body, causing serious injuries such as fractures and head trauma. The CDC reports that an older adult dies from a fall every 29 minutes. Therefore, it is vital that long-term care providers work to reduce the likelihood of residents suffering a fall.
Risk factors for falls
Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more health risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling. Some health factors include: eyesight or hearing problems, balance or gait problems, muscle weakness, confusion, slower reflexes, diabetes, heart problems or problems with the thyroid, nerves, feet or blood vessels. Some medications can also cause dizziness and drowsiness, which can make a person more likely to fall. Some residents may also experience a drastic drop in blood pressure when they get up from sitting or lying down called postural hypotension and that can lead to falls.
Fall prevention begins with a risk assessment to identify factors that make a resident more likely to fall. Some risk factors are: previous history of falls, pain, unsafe or absent footwear, incontinence, cognitive impairment, lower extremity weakness and poor grip strength. A resident’s environment can also increase their risk of falling. Factors such as poor lighting, clutter and uneven, incorrect bed height, inappropriate bed rails or wet floor surfaces can contribute to a fall. Finding the root cause of falls may help in implementing interventions to prevent them.
Once a risk assessment has identified a risk of falling, the development of a strategy to reduce the likelihood of a fall must be specific to a resident or their environment. Some residents may need to be referred to a Fall Prevention Program. The program may utilize several interventions to prevent residents from falling. Some possible interventions for residents may include:
- An audit of resident room and/or bathroom for safety
- Reducing clutter in room
- Placing call light within reach
- Moving frequently used items within easy reach
- Lowering bed height
- Keeping bed locked
- Providing high-backed chairs with arm rests
- Assessing assistive devices for wear and proper usage
- Providing hip protectors and other protective clothing
- Assessing medications for side effects
- Testing balance, gait and strength
- Obtaining eye and hearing examinations
- Assessing footwear and clothing for needed alterations
- Educating resident and loved ones about fall risks
- Implementing an exercise program
- Providing more activities with supervision
How can we help?
Supply360 has a wide array of items to help reduce fall risk for residents including safety mats, non-skid socks and assistive devices. See them online or call us at 1-866-710-7626.