4 Ways You Can Prevent Your Loved One From Falling

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Falls are always a concern with our loved ones, particularly as they age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every three adults aged 65 or older falls each year, but less than half discuss the fall with their health care teams. In addition, 20-30 percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries.

Care centers across the country are taking measures to help prevent falls. To lower the risks, health care teams complete an individualized assessment of each resident to identify strengths, weaknesses and areas of opportunity. From there, care centers work to keep residents moving through strength and balancing exercises and specialized therapies.

If you’re worried about your aging loved ones falling, here are four preventative things you can do during visits to their skilled nursing centers:

  • Be aware of the environment. Take a look at your loved one’s living space – his or her bedroom or bathroom. Observe areas of potential risk, and help make the environment safer. For example, remove clutter from the bedroom floor to prevent an accidental trip.
  • Be cautious of items you bring. Communicate with your loved one’s health care team prior to bringing in external items. If your family member wants a new rocking chair to read in, for example, make sure the chair has sturdy arms for additional support. Also, be sure to purchase pants or nightgowns that properly fit your loved one, as excess length can easily become a tripping hazard.
  • Be a part of care plan meetings. Discussing historical information on your loved one’s likes, dislikes and patterns provides high value to center staff. Try to participate in routine meetings with staff. If you aren’t local, call periodically to check in. Knowing your loved one typically gets up two to three times during the night to use the bathroom, for example, lets his or her health care team know that additional assistance may be needed during the night.
  • Be open and willing to participate. If you live in close proximity, participate in community activities with your loved one. By participating, you’re not only enhancing the experience for your family member, but also serving as additional help to the staff.  Sharing your observations as a family member are invaluable to helping staff get to know your loved one. 

Holly Harmon, RN, MBA is the Senior Director of Clinical Services at the American Health Care Association. She has more than 17 years of experience working in healthcare including post-acute care, long-term care and assisted living care.