The consequences of falling can be damaging. According to the National Council on Aging, they are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries, threatening safety, independence, and generating economic and personal cost. One study found deaths from falls in people over 65 rose by 31% between 2007 and 2016. In 2016, 30,000 people died as a result of a fall. The lead researcher in the study believes if the rate continues, the US can expect 59,000 people to die as the result of a fall by 2030.
What Steps Can You Take to Reduce Your Client’s Risk of Falling?
Six of every ten falls happen in your client's home, so by helping to reduce their risk at home, you're helping to reduce greater than 50% of their potential risk. You can also help to reduce their risk of falling outside the home by addressing personal health issues. Fall prevention begins with the client. They must stay physically active and engage in exercise that helps to improve balance, such as Tai Chi and core strengthening exercises.
Even small changes in hearing or eyesight can increase the risk of a fall. Anytime your client gets new glasses, or hearing aid encourage them to take time to get used to the new sensory input. Medication side effects are another reason your client may fall. Some drugs may make your client sleepy or dizzy, and interactions between multiple drugs increase the risk.
What Steps Can Your Client Take In The Community To Reduce The Risk Of Falls?
If needed, your client should use an appropriate assistive device. Walkers and canes can help prevent falls and make your client feel steadier on their feet. However, these devices must be the right size for your client and work appropriately. Wheels that do not roll smoothly on a walker can increase the risk your client will fall. When walking in unfamiliar areas or where the walkways are uneven, encourage your client to take time and even accept the assistance of those who are with them. Use sand or salt on icy areas in the front and back doors of your clients’ home and encourage them to wear non-skid, rubber-soled, low heeled shoes to support their feet and avoid slipping.
Take Care To Remove Obstacles In The Home
Removing obstacles in the home that may increase your client’s risk of falling is a vital step in protecting your clients' health. Start by clearing pathways of shoes, papers and other small objects. Many who are elderly or recovering from an injury may shuffle their feet increasing the risk they will trip over objects. Pick up throw rugs for the same reason.
Arrange the furniture in the family room, hallways and bedrooms to give plenty of room for movement. Have handrails installed on both sides of stairways and grab bars in the bathrooms around the toilet and shower. Use non-slip floor mats in the kitchen and bathroom where the floors may get wet. Lighting is another way to reduce the risk of falls. Ensure the living areas and hallways are well-lit and hang lightweight curtains on the windows to reduce any glare.
In the kitchen, move most of the commonly used items within reach and keep night lights in the kitchen, bathrooms, and hallways. Encourage your client to keep a flashlight by their bedside in case of a power outage. Electrical cords and telephone wires should be kept out of walking paths.
As You Are Fall Proofing, Don't Forget The Outside!
Consider installing grab bars next to the front and back doors to offer your client balance as they're placing the key in the door or stepping up to the door. Lighting outside the home is important to ensure the entryways do not cause a stumbling block to your client. Motion sensor lights may make it easier. The front and back steps to the home should not be broken or uneven, and any cracks or wobbly steps should be fixed as soon as possible.
Keep A Checklist To Fall Proof Your Clients Home
Anytime you're working with a new client to help fall-proof their home, and it's easier to work off of a checklist. Remember to include an initial assessment of the home to help be certain you have not overlooked any area. Include the exterior entrances and exits, interior doors and hallways, bathroom, kitchen and living room, dining room and bedroom. If your client is doing his laundry, be sure to assess those areas as well. Also, ensure that your client has smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the home and has a means of contacting emergency personnel if they should fall.
Work With Harmony!
If you’re ready to go through your checklist as you seek a new homecare assignment, contact our professional recruiter at Harmony. We are excited to help you move your career forward!