Caregivers, we know you’ve got a lot on your mind - and fall prevention is probably one of your top concerns. Although anybody can fall over at any age, for older people, an unexpected fall can result in serious injury.
Falling doesn’t have to be an inevitable fact about ageing. Fall prevention training helps bring awareness to the common risk factors that contribute to greater fall risk, as well as instructing on how to mitigate those risks more effectively.
3 reasons fall prevention training is so important
- Falls are common. Fall-related injuries accounted for one in every eight days spent in hospital by a person aged 65 and over in 2016–171.
- Falls can cause serious injury. Falls can result in injuries such as hip fractures, broken bones, and head trauma.
- Falls carry an emotional toll. After a fall, older people can start to become fearful of falling and limit their activities, resulting in further physical decline, social isolation, and depression.
How caregivers can help to prevent falls -
Start the conversation
Many adults believe falling won’t happen to them, until it does. A good place to start is by having a conversation with the person in your care. Ask them if they experience dizziness, problems with balance, or trip often. This helps caregivers assess risk as well as bringing the patient’s attention to falls awareness.
Keep eye checkups up-to-date
If the person you are caring for wears glasses, make sure their prescription is current. If they don’t, it’s still a good idea to get their eyes checked annually to address any vision issues as soon as they occur.
Also, it is important to note that bifocals can be problematic on stairs and other multi-level areas outside.
Be aware of medication effects
Some medications can cause side effects that put people off balance, making them more susceptible to a fall. Make sure that medications are taken according to their proper schedule, and that your patient is aware of the need for extra care when getting up and down particularly if they are affected.
It’s also important to have medications reviewed each time a new prescription is needed. Have a list of your patient’s medications ready to bring to the doctor - some medications don’t ‘play nice’ together and your doctor needs to know the whole picture before making prescription decisions.
Notice changes in movement
Is the person you’re caring for shuffling their feet when walking? Do they hold onto walls or furniture when moving around the house? Do they seem to have difficulty rising from their chair?
All of these indicate it might be time to consider getting an assessment from a physical therapist. Physical therapists can help improve balance and strength through carefully designed exercises. They can also match the patient with the right mobility aid such as a walker or cane, and provide guidance on the safe use of this falls prevention equipment.
Do a walk-through safety assessment
We tend to feel the most secure in familiar environments. Perhaps that’s why most falls happen at home. There are many inexpensive ways to make a home safer.
Lighting - Increase light throughout the house, especially at stairs and in the bathroom.
Stairs - Install secure handrails along all stairs, even if there are only 1 or 2 stairs in the set.
Bathrooms - Make sure grab bars are installed in the shower and near the toilet.
Floors - Keep floors free of clutter, remove throw rugs and use double-sided tape to keep any carpet edges down.
Even among the most rigorous precautions, falls still can sometimes occur. It’s important to have a plan for when this happens. Keep emergency numbers near the phone, and make sure phones are placed near the ground in case your patient can’t get up. Consider using a medical alert device that calls for help at the push of a button.
Attend fall prevention training
As the caregiver, you’ve got a big responsibility to protect the person in your care. Fortunately, most falls can be prevented. It’s a good idea to attend fall prevention training to reduce your loved one’s risk of falling - and your own fall risk too for that matter!
Keystone Healthcare provides online equipment guides and fall prevention training to ensure our fall prevention equipment is used correctly and safely. To book training for your care staff or facility, call us on 1300 547 877.