Falls are the leading cause of injuries among seniors in the United States, and some of these falls can result in disability or even death. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four Americans over the age of 65 falls each year, and these 29 million falls lead to three million emergency department visits, 800,000 hospitalizations and 28,000 deaths. While falls are more common in the senior population, they are not inevitable with age. Lifestyle adjustments, fall prevention programs, and clinical and community education can all greatly reduce the risks associated with falls.
Elmcroft Senior Living residents enjoy a lifestyle that allows them to live as fully and safely as possible. Part of that lifestyle is our commitment to assure safe mobility, even as residents’ physical abilities change. Because changes in vision, strength and balance, medications, and medical condition can all increase the chances and risks of falling, we work proactively to provide residents with practical strategies to keep them safe and active.
What is a Fall Prevention Program?The primary goal of a fall prevention program is to deliver customized care, education and interventions to equip seniors with the tools they need to reduce fall risks and stay safe.
Elmcroft’s Walking Tall Fall Prevention program is specifically designed to improve safe mobility around our communities and help our residents live as safely and independently as possible. If the Walking Tall program is determined to be a good fit for a resident, we work together to develop a fall prevention plan, increase their fall prevention knowledge and assess their living environment for fall risk factors. Then, we introduce measures designed to reduce falls and improve their overall health and well-being.
Fall Prevention Intervention and EducationFall prevention interventions are designed to help reduce accidental falls among seniors. These programs include education about fall risk factors and simple strategies for reducing these risks, or at least being aware of them, in a senior’s daily life.
Fall prevention often begins with a physician’s visit, where you and your senior loved one can discuss past falling episodes, any health conditions – like certain eye, ear, blood pressure or mobility disorders – that could raise their risk, and possible side effects of medications they’re currently taking. Beyond medical assessment and advice, starting a gentle (physician-approved) exercise routine like walking, water aerobics or tai chi can help your senior loved one improve their balance and strength. Encouraging your loved one to wear sturdy, sensible shoes; addressing obvious home hazards – like loose rugs or floorboards; slippery bath or shower floors; and tables, cords and other tripping risks; as well as ensuring all rooms are well-lit and equipped with nightlights can make a big difference. If your loved one is always unsteady on their feet, assistive devices like canes or walkers can significantly reduce their fall risk.
Developing a Fall Prevention PlanAt Elmcroft, our Resident Services Directors complete a fall prevention assessment of each resident when they move in – and every six months after a fall – to determine if the Walking Tall Fall Prevention program is a good fit. If so, the community’s interdisciplinary team will create an individualized Walking Tall intervention plan, which may include:
- Review of your loved one’s assistive devices
- Assessment of their living area and environment
- Review of their medications
- Recommendations for balance and strength exercises
- Evaluation of their vision and inner ear for balance and coordination issues
Families are urged to participate through educational in-service programs to better understand why their loved one may be at an increased risk of falling and how they can be part of the Walking Tall solution.
For residents with dementia, Elmcroft’s memory care communities and units are designed to be relaxing and easily navigable to minimize resident confusion and frustration, and they feature extra security to help residents stay safe and prevent them from wandering off-site.
Fall Prevention Checklist for the ElderlyIn addition to helping your senior loved one get a medical assessment for possible fall risk factors, you can help them minimize hazards in their home or senior community in some of the following ways:
- Remove tripping hazards like boxes, electrical cords, plants and coffee tables from heavily-traveled areas.
- Secure loose rugs with non-slip pads or adhesive backing and repair loose floorboards.
- Keep items they need every day – like clothing, toiletries, food, dishes and silverware, books and crossword puzzles, TV remotes, phones, etc. – in easy-to-reach places.
- Put non-slip mats and bath seats in bath and shower areas, and consider installing a grab bar in the shower and near the toilet.
- Remove all objects from stairways and repair loose steps.
- Install handrails on both sides of the stairs and ensure they’re not loose or unstable.
- Make sure stairways, hallways, bathrooms and kitchens are well lit.
- Place a lamp close to the bed on an easy-to-reach table and install nightlights in rooms and hallways.
- Make sure dropped items, spilled food or liquids, or anything potentially greasy or slippery are cleaned up quickly.
- Keep emergency numbers in large print near each phone.
- Consider getting your loved one a device they can press to call for help if they fall and can’t get up.
Benefits of Fall Prevention Programs at Assisted Living CommunitiesElmcroft assisted living and personal care communities are dedicated to meeting the individual needs of each of our residents. Walking Tall is just another way we take a proactive approach to resident wellness.
Educating seniors on fall prevention delivers many important benefits, including:
- Enhanced awareness of residents’ potential for falling
- Behavioral adjustments to prevent falls
- Improved quality of life
If you would like more information about Elmcroft’s fall prevention programs, and to learn if your loved one could benefit from these interventions, contact us today.