Falls and slips are unfortunately very common among seniors in the United States. These types of incidents can often result in severe injuries, like broken bones, and even traumatic brain injuries. In many cases, victims of falls can also suffer from mental health disorders like depression and anxiety — including social isolation — or lose mobility in certain body parts. This means a fall patient may end up using a wheelchair temporarily or even permanently. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), one in four Americans aged 65 and up fall each year, and an elderly adult dies from a fall every 19 minutes.
The total financial cost of treating falls is also extremely high. Per the CDC, more than $34 billion is spent each year on slip and fall injuries, and hospital payments comprise roughly two-thirds of this amount. The CDC also reported that more than 95% of hip fractures are due to falls, typically by falling sideways. Falls can also lead to broken wrists, arms, and ankles.
Therefore, everyone who is responsible for senior care must be adequately trained in fall prevention. This includes being familiar with the risks involved. There are many hazards that must be removed in order to minimize the likelihood of an elderly person slipping or falling.
Here are eight steps to create a fall prevention plan for anyone who is caring for seniors:
1) Schedule an Appointment with a Doctor
The first order of business when an elderly loved one slips or falls is to schedule an appointment with a physician so that a thorough diagnosis can be made. A doctor in these cases should typically ask the patient questions like:
- Have you ever fallen before?
- Do you have any health conditions that could put you at greater risk for another fall?
- What medications are you taking, if any?
2) Install Raised Toilets with Armrests
Raised toilet seats with armrests can provide more stability and significantly reduce the probability of slipping and becoming a fall victim.
3) Add Grab Bars in the Shower or Bathtub
It’s not just raised toilet seats that can make a huge difference in the number of slips and falls that occur in your home. Installing grab bars in showers and bathtubs can also give elderly patients additional objects to hold onto. Ensure bathrooms are also made of non-slippery materials like vinyl or carpet, or non-slip ceramic or porcelain tile.
4) Provide Handrails in Stairways
Much like the previous two precautions, adding handrails to stairways can substantially help mitigate the risk of slips and falls.
5) Add Non-Slip Treads on Steps
Adding non-slip treads for wooden steps is also an effective measure that can reduce falls among elderly patients. You should also ensure your loved one wears sensible shoes with smooth soles like Sketchers and New Balance sneakers and other slip-on shoes. Shoes with lace-free closures like Velcro straps are ideal for seniors, as well as shoes with wide mouths and proper padding, as this can better absorb and disperse the shock of feet hitting the ground. Shoes with removable insoles, high backs, low heels, and adequate traction are also great for helping to minimize the probability of slips and falls.
6) Acquire Emergency Notification Devices
Electronic devices are key to helping in-home care workers attend to your loved one in the event of an emergency when he or she has already slipped and fallen. PCMag reviews notification devices, which cost as little as $20 per month and feature batteries that last up to 32 hours. Today’s medical devices are typically equipped with GPS and cellular connectivity, and they track movements and other forms of activity. Many of them can be plugged into cars to be charged.
7) Consult with Your In-Home Care Provider
Many people prefer to be treated at home rather than in an assisted living facility. Therefore, you should consider hiring an in-home care provider (like a registered nurse) to attend to your loved one’s needs if they feel safest in the comfort and familiarity of their house or apartment. According to aging.com, the average cost of in-home care in the U.S. is $4,000. However, many providers offer daily or hourly rates for services. The benefits of this type of care include more personalized attention, especially for things like hygiene habits, and staying on top of dietary and medication needs.
8) Speak to People Who Have Experience in Caring for the Elderly
There is a lot of information available to you and plenty of people willing to give advice about the precautions you can take to set up a fall prevention plan.
You are welcome to contact the experienced in-home care professionals at Comfort Home Care to learn more about the precautions you can take to set up a fall prevention plan for your elderly loved one. Although based in Rockville, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., Comfort Home Care serves patients across Montgomery County, Howard County, and Prince George’s County.
Founded in 1999, Comfort Home Care is dedicated to improving the overall quality of life for disabled people and seniors. All of its caregivers are Geriatric Nursing Assistants or Certified Nursing Assistants licensed by the state of Maryland. Their hiring process is thorough, as it includes both written and verbal skills assessments, in-person interviews, medical screenings, criminal background checks, and personal reference verification.
In-home care is also typically covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance companies. According to the NCOA, the total cost of fall injuries in 2015 was $50 billion, and Medicaid and Medicare ended up covering 75% of this amount. This is especially good news considering the fact that the economic toll for elderly adult falls is projected to increase as the population gets older, and it could reach $67.7 billion by 2020.
Call Comfort Home Care today at 301-984-7681 or contact them online for more information about their services. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more compassionate organization in the Maryland-D.C. area.