A Moment with Maria

Maria Licoudis, R.N. & Care Manager at Home Care Assistance Montreal

Senior Mobility and the Risk of Falls - January 2015

We can all fall, however the fall of a senior can have a more devastating impact. Statistically, one in three seniors over the age of 65 falls at least once a year. Women are three times more likely to be hospitalized than men for fall injuries. Men are more likely to die from the injuries. Half of the admissions to long-term care are fall related, and half of the people who are injured do not get their full performance back.

As caregivers, we have to be aware of the risk factors and the key ways to prevent falls. Factors that we need to be alert to include seniors living alone, slow reflexes, poor balance, bad posture, weakness, decreased vision, decreased hearing, diagnosis of osteoporosis, stroke, or Parkinson’s. We also need to be aware of poor nutrition, joint stiffness, arthritis, and heart disease. Medication side effects such as antidepressants, tranquilizers and antihypertensives can cause the clients to have drowsiness or low blood pressure, therefore, increasing the risk of falls.

As educated and responsible caregivers, home assessment on an ongoing basis requires alertness and execution of these fall prevention techniques. Daily exercise, nutrition and hydration are crucial. Footwear with good cushion support and nonslip soles are a basic must. On awakening, have the client sit on the edge of the bed for a couple of minutes before getting up in order to stabilize blood pressure. Make sure stairs as well as corridors are well lit and that there are nightlights and cordless phones in all rooms. Bathrooms must be equipped with nonskid bath mats, grab bars in the bathtub and shower area, with preferably a shower chair. Floors must always be kept dry. In the house, all area rugs must have nonslip/nonskid back, or be taped to the floor. There should not be any cords or cluttering on the floors with any objects, newspapers or electrical wires. Our clients must be educated in the use of their canes, walkers and wheelchairs. Toilet seats, chairs and couches should accommodate each clients height. Ample space for them in the living areas to move around freely is a must. Placing benches in the entrance way or hallway is critical if they require rest periods.

Create sufficient time and never rush the client to complete any activities of daily living. As easy as it is to fall, the good news is that it is just as simple to implement these actions and avoid the risk of falling so that we can extend and maintain a greater quality of life for our clients.

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