It’s no secret that falls continue to be a prevailing issue in assisted living communities. What makes matters worse is that falls aren’t exactly minor injuries, more often than not. They can be life-threatening (which is likely if they involve head injuries). And even if they aren’t sometimes, it can take time for the elderly to recover from serious cases, which only decreases their quality of life.
Even though falls are bound to plague senior care due to seniors having a higher risk of being subject to them, it’s only right to mitigate that risk. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of effective preventive methods that assisted living communities are already doing to actively address the dangers of falls. The following six steps prove that much.
Install and having safety aids available wherever and whenever they are necessary
From grab bars and mobility aids to bathroom safety tools and other relevant tools, if these aren’t already found in great abundance in a community senior living, they should be as soon as possible.
- Obviously, they (especially the grab bars) should be installed strategically. There shouldn’t be an area in your community, where there’s a higher risk of falls, that shouldn’t have them. This rings true for bathing aids and toileting supports, too.
- Mobility supports such as canes and walkers should always be within arm’s reach by the staff should a resident request or require it.
Encourage residents to take part in exercises that actively prevent falls.
There’s no better way to provide an answer to the falls problem than to involve the seniors in tackling it. This is obviously one good way to do it. Plenty of exercises helps in improving balance immensely. The same goes for strength.
Without a doubt, these are two factors that play a pivotal role in lessening the risk of people tumbling down. It goes without saying that plenty of cases arises as a result of seniors losing their balance, after all.
Of course, this is assuming it’s still within the capabilities of the resident to take part in these exercises regularly. Some senior-friendly balance exercises include:
- Back leg raises
- Walking heel to toe
- One-leg stand
- Sideways walking
Encourage anticipatory and prevention-focused support from caregivers can go a long way.
No, they don’t have to follow seniors everywhere they go. It’s about being consistently aware of one’s immediate surroundings and adopting a mindset of reacting as quickly as possible in case these emergencies do occur.
- It also won’t hurt if the staff take the initiative to promote a safer environment on a regular basis.
- For example, being mindful of common causes of falls like minimal lighting in a certain area, wet floors, and loose carpets and rugs and correcting them as soon as possible.
- If they can’t be corrected, that’s the time for the staff to adopt a more vigilant stance with a focus on significantly lowering the risk of falls by actively lending residents a hand.
Conduct regular safety assessments of various areas of the community senior living.
Risks will undoubtedly be considerably reduced if communities will take the safety of their vicinities seriously. Chances are, improvements can still be made in that regard. You will more than likely discover key weak points that need to be addressed soon.
- For example, many communities find that they can benefit a lot from having emergency notification systems throughout their venue. These are tools that can aid the communication between staff and allow them to respond to emergencies in a more rapid, efficient manner.
- Maybe your community can capitalize on surveillance systems installed in places that your residents frequent, too?
These solutions may not do much in actually preventing falls. However, we can argue that they can help you pinpoint key areas of your community that direly need improving. We can also make a case for the necessity to respond quickly to these situations, as it could mean the difference between life and death.
Lastly, check your safety tools and areas where falls normally happen. Replace and repair broken lighting when they happen, especially if they’re in private rooms or areas like stairs and bathrooms that statistically belong to the top as far as the frequency of falls is concerned.
Be mindful of the general state of health of every resident.
Aptly, your awareness should also extend to each and every one of your residents. Assisted living for seniors done properly involves taking the time to be familiar with everyone you’re serving.
- Who are the ones that have poor eyesight or eye problems?
- Who are more likely to need assistance while walking?
- Are they finding it hard to keep track of the medications they’ve taken?
- Who are the ones that are experiencing adverse effects from the intake of medicines? Be especially mindful of those who are suffering from side effects that can lead to dizziness and other balancing problems. This includes those who are not getting adequate sleep.
Adopt a policy that helps seniors become more independent
This is not so much about lessening the burden on staff as helping seniors take better control of themselves. Some assisted living communities to tend to be too focused on rendering assistance, to the point that they make their residents too reliant on it. As in all things in this world, too much of a good thing often leads to the opposite, less desired outcome.
The more you teach residents to be independent, the more you strengthen them — in more ways than one. Without a doubt, this encompasses their physical strength as well, with regards to handling daily activities. And when do these falls typically occur? Don’t they usually happen while in the act of doing some normal day-to-day activity?
With the facts above considered, is there a sure-fire way to prevent falls? 100% prevention would arguably be pushing it. However, it’s only right for communities for senior living to prioritize fall prevention.
Part of the challenge evidently lies in the need for there to be constant, active support from the entire community. Nothing less is warranted from a problem that is similarly persistent.