3 Fall Risk Factors You Should Know

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Falling, particularly with aging adults, is a scary reality. In fact, the risk of falling increases with age. At skilled nursing centers across the country, health care teams are working with residents and their families to prevent falls before they even occur.

But if your loved one does take a fall, know that an investigation will take place in addition to center staff reporting the fall to the doctor and family. The skilled nursing center’s analysis will look into the circumstances that surrounded the fall in addition to identifying any risks that led to the event, whether they were preventable or not.

Here are three common risk factors you should know that could increase your loved one’s chances of falling:

  1.  Footwear – Making sure your loved one is wearing proper footwear is important in preventing falls. If he or she is wearing a new pair of shoes, for example, work with the center staff to  ensure proper fitting. If the shoes are too large or too small, your loved one may experience discomfort that leads to a trip or loss of balance causing a fall.
  2.  Medication – Starting a new medication may affect your loved one’s risk of falling. If your loved one is placed on a diuretic, for example, his or her bathroom patterns could change. Your        loved one may start getting up more in the middle of the night, increasing the risk of falling in the dark. If that’s the case, speak with center staff about options to change the administration    time of the medication.
  3.  Blood sugar – Blood sugar level is also a factor in falling. Particularly if your loved one has diabetes or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), make sure the staff is checking vitals regularly to  assess any additional risks that may occur.

After a fall, it’s important for families to work with their loved one’s health care team to help modify the resident’s care plan where appropriate. Simple changes, like ensuring there is proper lighting in the bedroom, can help prevent future falls.

Holly Harmon, RN, MBA is the Senior Director of Clinical Services at the American Health Care Association. She has more than 17 years of experience working in healthcare including post-acute care, long-term care and assisted living care.

Reprinted with Permission:  www.CareConversations.org