As people enter their senior years, the risk of falling becomes a great concern. A fall could result in serious consequences including painful injuries and unexpected medical bills. A bad fall could result in a decline in health. The good news is that there are things you can do as a caregiver, or family member, that can help prevent falls.
Even if a fall does not result in injury, that person may become fearful of falling. That fear can lead to an additional set of challenges. They may cut back on activities where they feel like they might fall. They may not want to leave the house and they may become weaker because they avoid activity.
It’s a good idea to review your environment and daily activities to make sure your home is as safe as possible, especially for hospice patients who are expected to become weaker as time goes on. These changes can put them at risk for falls, which are upsetting and can cause injuries. Here are some tips for making sure your home is safe for everyone.
There are important things you can do to prevent falls:
• Clear pathways of clutter.
• Remove rugs or tack them down.
• Use night lights in the bedroom, bathroom, and hallways.
• Use grab bars in the shower, tub, and toilet areas.
• Put a non-skid mat in the tub or shower.
• Encourage standing up slowly after eating or resting.
• If getting the person to the bathroom is becoming difficult, try a bedside commode instead.
• If a walker or cane has been prescribed, use it.
• Pay special attention to safety when someone starts taking a new medication, as this may cause slowed reflexes or dizziness.
• Ask for help when needed.
When caring for a person who needs assistance with mobility, on top of the concern for falls, there is also a risk for injury during moving or lifting of that person. You can avoid injury by paying attention to some basic guidelines when moving or lifting the person you are caring for.
Moving and Lifting
• Do not try to move anyone if there are any doubts about doing it safely.
• If there is a hospital bed, move it to a comfortable working height.
• Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes and keep the feet shoulder-width apart.
• When lifting, bend your knees and use the muscles in your arms and legs, not your back.
• Do not jerk suddenly; use a smooth, fluid motion. Stand as close as possible with your toes pointing to the direction you want to move the person.
• Do not twist your body to turn.
• Whenever possible, use a sheet under the person to lift or turn
As a caregiver, you have the power to reduce the risk of injury to your loved one. If you are on hospice, you can talk to your Nurse or Care Navigator if you would like more information about safety in your home. If your loved one happens to have a fall, call your hospice nurse so that they can examine them. But, by following the simple steps outlined above you can keep your loved one safe and free from injury.
If you are a caregiver and you have questions about providing care or may need additional support, call us today at 1-800-467-7423 or visit our FREE online resource to download valuable information.