Falls can be very dangerous to the elderly and need to be prevented whenever possible. According the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 1 out 3 elderly people over the age of 65 has an injury fall each year and in 2008, almost 20,000 elderly adults died from fall injuries. With such staggering statistics, the prevention of falls in nursing homes should be a top priority.
The most common type of injury elderly adults sustain from falls is fractures. Hip fractures are the most common and can be excruciating for the fall victim. These injuries can take months, even years to recover from, if they recover at all. According to the CDC, 1 out of 5 hip fracture patients dies from their injury within a year.
Prevention Of Falls
Most falls can be prevented by diligence on the part of the nursing home staff. There are several strategies that can be used to anticipate and prevent nursing home falls.
- Patient medical evaluation. Medical staff should be looking for fall precursors in nursing home staff. Many medications have side effects that can contribute to falls. There are also medical conditions that effect balance and coordination. These medical factors need to be communicated to all staff members so they are aware of the patient’s special needs.
- Exercise programs. Patients with muscle weakness can benefit from exercise programs that help build strength. Even slow walks can help, with the close observation of a staff member.
- Proper footwear. Elderly need to have comfortable, well fitting shoes. Slippers may be too loose and easily trip a patient with poor coordination. Soles should be non-slip, but not too think.
- Easy to navigate areas. Rooms and hallways need to be well-lit and uncluttered. There should not be excess furniture or items where patients walk. Spills need to be immediately cleaned to prevent slipping.
- Rails and other devices. For patients with balance issues, there needs to be handrails in bathrooms and tubs, along with non-slip tubs and shower seats. Patients who have trouble walking at all need to have canes, walkers or other device to keep them safe.
With careful adherence providing them with the environment and tools patients need to stay safe, many nursing home falls can be prevented. Reducing falls can improve the quality and length of life for many nursing home residents.