It’s no surprise that the elderly are at an increased risk of a fall compared to younger people. Because of their weakened muscles and compromised balance, the elderly are more likely to experience a fall compared to younger persons. And when they do fall, the injuries sustained are often much more severe compared to the younger demographic as a result to more brittle bones and the longer time that’s needed for soft tissue injuries to repair.
It’s important that long-term care facilities have a strategy in place that will help to prevent falls in the elderly, or at least minimize their frequency. Seniors living in these facilities deserve the same amount of care and attention as those living at home. They also have the right to be free from accidental injury, and this begins with identifying falls risks throughout nursing homes.
Such an endeavor warrants an integrated and comprehensive approach, beginning with proper assessment and care planning, right through to the entire duration of an elderly’s stay. Many interventions can be included, such as assessing patients after a fall to pinpoint any risk factors and treat the medical conditions.
Staff should also be thoroughly educated on the risk of a fall and strategies to prevent them. Any necessary changes in the nursing home environment should be made in order to make it simpler for seniors to move around freely and safely. A list of all residents who are considered a high risk for a fall should be posted at all nursing stations. Staff should be trained on proper lifting techniques and on all lift assistance devices.
The environment needs to be continuously assessed for potential hazards that could lead to slips and falls for residents, as well as staff for that matter. When a hazard is identified, immediate action should be taken to remove it, and access to the area should be restricted until the risk has been alleviated.
Floors should always be free of litter, and spills should be wiped up immediately. Lighting in all areas should be adequate to make sure that it is bright for residents to see where they are going. Beds should be maintained at their lowest position, and bed wheels should be locked at all times.
Elderly persons who live in nursing homes are there to be taken care of around the clock. They expect a certain level of care, including the prevention of falls that would further exacerbate any current medical issues they may already have.