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Protecting the Elderly from Falls

Protecting the Elderly from Falls

elderly woman on the floor after falling down and caring woman assitant

It’s the most significant non-medical risk factor for seniors.

Platinum Home Health Care keeps complete and detailed records of slip-and-fall incidents involving our clients, and there are several trends we’ve observed that every care provider should be aware of.

Slips and falls are a high-level hazard to the elderly, with over 2.5 million emergency room visits a year. Once a patient has suffered a fall, the risk of repeat emergency room visits rises sharply, and complications may include everything from osteoporosis-related fractures, prolonged convalescence, sharply reduced quality of life, permanent disability or even premature mortality.

Vigilance on—and off—the clock…

Most falls take place in the patient’s housing, whether that may be a private home or residential facility, and our surveys have shown that a substantial percentage of falls occur when care providers are off duty or at night when the patient’s family caregivers are asleep.

Our records show that many incidents occurred when patients tried to get up to use the bathroom alone. With their many hard surfaces, protruding objects, potentially wet, slippery floors and trip hazards such as bathmats or throw rugs, bathrooms are particularly hazardous areas. If safety devices such as handrails and support aids are inadequate or absent, the risk of a serious accident is even greater. For example, there may be only one grab rail for a toilet where two are necessary for the patient to use the facility safely. The best thing care providers can do is to observe the patient and take note of any issues that arise as they perform their daily tasks of living.

interior bathroom for elderly people

Both indoors and outdoors.

Outdoor areas present another significant area of risk for patient falls, according to PHHC’s incident reports. It only takes a moment of inattention for a senior to slip or trip and fall on uneven sidewalks, stumble over obstructions, or be struck by pedestrian or vehicular traffic. These kinds of accidents are easily prevented, but with so many distractions in our modern lives, caregivers—whether professional or family—must be focused on the patient at all times, and not on their friends, co-workers, or smartphone screens.

Keep your eyes on a swivel.

To minimize these risks, be on the lookout at all times for potential hazards or inadequate safety measures, and take steps correct or remediate them wherever possible—or at least, report them promptly to responsible parties.

Of course, PHHC aides pride themselves on providing the best care, and great care means following up to be sure the problems are addressed properly. Aides, please contact your supervisor right away if you see a problem that needs to be reviewed at a higher level.

Have a safe time—and let’s everyone stay right-side-up!

Contact us today for more information.