The idea of total fall prevention is a little far-fetched. No one can prevent all slip & falls. However, if you are a caregiver, you can help reduce falls for seniors! The role of caregiving is often filled by a family member, spouse, or service provider. If you fit into any of these categories, then you know all too well that it can be both rewarding and exhausting.
You can actively protect the ones you care for by preventing falls. There is, however, a fine line between being helpful and enabling. The first step in proactive fall reduction is often overlooked.
Step 1 – Identification
The first step to attempt fall prevention is to identify risk factors for falls in the senior’s day-to-day environment. Identify and assess all obstacles or challenges the individual must address on a daily basis. You can do this just by monitoring the senior and taking notes of dangerous obstacles. These obstacles could be as minor as a rug or as significant as a wet floor outside of the shower. Some examples would be:
- Loose rugs
- Changes in flooring
- Stairs or steps
- Wet floors
- Dim lighting
- Baggy fitting clothes or loose shoes
- Furniture (bulky or hidden)
- Absent handrails
- Absent monitoring devices
- Incorrectly prescribed eyewear
- Illness, disabilities, or medications
If you do notice any environmental fall risk factors; remove them! The idea is similar to baby-proofing an area, just simply making it safer for the occupants. When you are around someone regularly, you will notice what things could be considered a threat to their safety.
Step 2 – Behavior
When you spend a substantial amount of time taking care of someone, you pick up on routines and daily behaviors. It is essential to monitor their physical activity, but as a caregiver, you can help towards fall prevention by watching for any changes in behavior. If you are a non-formal caregiver, such as a relative, be sure to report any behavioral changes to your loved one’s primary care physician. These changes in mood could be something more severe.
Step 3 – Ailments
As a caregiver, it is part of your duty to know what is going on with the senior in your life. You always need to be aware of whatever changes may be going on with their health and medication regimen. One of the main factors of fall prevention is monitoring, and that means asking yourself these questions often:
- Have they started any new medications?
- Does the medication cause dizziness?
- Do they have an ear infection?
- When was the last time they had their eyes checked?
- Do they have any disease, ailment or disability that will contribute to falls?
Do any of those questions remain a mystery to you? If yes, then do the senior a favor and contact their doctor. Ensuring the senior in your life exercises regularly will also help them stay healthy enough to ambulate safely. Another great way to remain proactive of falls is to transition your loved one into a senior living community. Most senior communities specialize in safety and protection. These rooms should be hazard free and have effective emergency call systems. You can help steer the senior in your life towards fall prevention by following these three steps and be the steady hand that your loved one needs!
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