Falls refer to any situation in which someone descends (or falls) suddenly and involuntarily toward a lower surface or the ground. Fall risk is important to address as 1 in 3 older adults fall daily. Fall complications can include broken bones, head injuries, problem with daily activities, and need for home health care.
Factors that contribute to falls include, but are not limited to:
- Health issues and medication;
- Being shoved or running into a barrier;
- Cluttered rooms, area rugs, wet or slick surfaces, improper lighting;
- Wet or slick surfaces without non-skid footwear; and
- Lack of appropriate medical adaptive equipment, inappropriate footwear.
Your role if someone falls:
- Once a fall occurs don’t attempt to move the person until you have assessed him/her to see if there may be a fracture. Call 911 if you suspect injury, continue to monitor, and consult with a physician if the person starts to have frequent falls. No matter how minor the fall may be, remember to document and REPORT ALL FALLS as required because signs and symptoms of injury/fracture may not appear immediately.
Prevention of Falls:
- Plan space so that it is well lit and without obstacles;
- Ensure people have appropriate adaptive equipment for mobility and vision (such as grab bars, walking cane, or walker);
- Make sure that regular medical checkups are scheduled (i.e., primary care physical, optometrist);
- Ensure use of non-skid shoes when in the bathroom or other areas where surfaces are slippery;
- Monitor medications and look for side effects;
- Provide adequate time for moving from place to place and walk at his/her own pace; and
- Lock wheels on wheelchairs and/or beds when transferring.
People at risk for falls include, but are not limited to those who:
- Are older and have loss of muscle;
- Have arthritis, diabetes, and skeletal problems;
- Have visual and/or hearing loss;
- Take medications that cause gait concerns; or
- Do not have appropriate adaptive equipment.