Fall Prevention for the elderly can help save lives. Death in adults over the age of 60 is often linked to a fall, due to infection and dysfunction of major organs resulting from trauma and immobility after a fall. Falls in older adults usually result in fractures of the hip, pelvis, spine and limbs, as well as skin tears, bruises and/or traumatic head injuries. A fall will often leave the person with a fear of another fall, therefore, limiting activity and interfering with daily independence and mobility. For seniors, preventing falls is essential to maintain a lifestyle they enjoy.
The surgeries to repair fractures and subsequent rehabilitation in a long term care facility is extremely hard on the older adult and often they end up with lung dysfunction, pneumonia or infection. According to national statistics men are more inclined to die from a fall than women, a surprising factor, however, the number of falls is higher for women than men.
Taking the necessary steps to prevent falls is essential, especially for the older adult living alone. Several simple and inexpensive adjustments to the living environment can be made to help prevent falls and relieve the fear of falling.
How to Prevent Falls
Making a room by room checklist of items needed for safety will make planning and shopping easier. Installation is most often will require little effort and no special tools.
Bedroom Aid for Fall Prevention:
- Bedrails to prevent falling from the bed as well as assist to sit up, come in many styles, such as simple to install bedrails that slide between the mattress and box spring and secure with strapping, or bed rails that are secured to the frame. Many Assisted and Independent Living facilities will not allow bedrails that are permanently positioned as they are viewed as a restraint device. There are bedrails available that can be turned away from the bed or released to lie flat against the side of the bed when not in use, such as the Smart Rail, Arcorail and the Standers Easy Adjust Bed Rail - these are allowed by most facilities.
Bathroom Safety Aids for Fall Prevention:
- Grab Bars are essential to prevent falls. Grab bars are available in various lengths and styles, including newer styles that blend well with the most upscale bathroom design. Grab bars that are permanently attached to wall studs are the most secure and will hold the most pull weight. Suction grab bars can be used on smooth, clean surfaces and should be used only for support and balance.
- Shower Chairs are available with and without backs and/or arms and are adjustable in height to accommodate the person who may require a higher surface when sitting. Most shower chairs are equipped with suction feet to prevent the chair from slipping and should be placed on a flat surface.
- Raised Toilet Seats are primarily used for the person who needs a higher surface when sitting, especially after hip or knee surgery. Available with and without arms and in a variety of styles including hinged, cushioned, round or elongated and with or without an open front and splash guard.
- Transfer Benches provide easy access to the tub by allowing the person to sit down and then slide across the tub. For added safety used a transfer bench with a non-slip bath mat on the bottom of the tub.
- Bath Lifts are techanical devices that allow a person to be lowered into the water for a tub bath or water therapy.
- Walk in Tubs are specially designed bath tubs with a watertight door to allow a person to walk in and enjoy a bath.
There are many other assistive devices for fall prevention such as lift chairs, walkers, canes and even ice cleats. The objective is to provide the tools to make a person as safe as possible, using the tools to prevent that possible fatal fall. For more information on preventing falls, click the articles below.