Preventing the incidence of falling among older adults is dependent upon several factors. One important step in decreasing the incidence of falling is to make environmental modifications in locations where older adults live, such as nursing home facilities. In a nursing home, securing any throw rugs, eliminating clutter, sufficient stair railings, improving lighting, ensuring that there are non-skid floors and non-skid bathtubs, and installing grab bars in bathrooms are mandatory.
A checklist of possible hazardous conditions should be given to residents upon admission to a nursing home facility or other residential treatment environment for older adults.
Another measure that can reduce the risk of falling is counseling and health education. It is vital to make sure that there are reviews and modifications, if necessary, to an older person’s medication. Many prescribed medications have side effects that may lead to dizziness or feeling light-headed.
Other environmental modifications:
- Making sure the correct footwear is used
- Proper wheelchair use
- Exercises that focus on strength, balance, transfer and ambulation
- Modifying, reviewing and repairing assistive devices, such as canes and walkers
- Instituting facility-wide education and training
- Raised toilet seats
- Gait training
- The use of hip protectors which do not prevent falls, but reduce the impact of a fall
- The use of new technology such as safety flooring
When choosing a nursing home for a loved one or for yourself, it is vital to walk through the common areas and visit the rooms to determine if that facility is proactive in protecting their residential population by creating a safe and obstacle-free environment. Make note of any hazards, such as water or other liquids on the floor, cleaning equipment such as mops not being properly stored, wheelchairs and walkers left unattended in the corridors, etc.
For those residents that need help to go to the toilet or wash, make sure that there are available staff to assist them at all times.
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