The Role of the Caregiver in Fall Prevention

Fall Prevention
Learn how a caregiver can help with fall prevention for seniors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older will fall. Falls can lead to moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head trauma and can even increase the risk of early death.” The good news is that falls can be prevented!

With Nightingale’s falls prevention program, Paces, each of our patients is screened for fall risk at the time of admission to care. If the risk is significant, our professional clinicians work together to develop a customized fall reduction plan that addresses all of the unique factors that contribute to that patient’s risk. The family caregiver also plays a significant role in ensuring that his or her loved one is safe at home.   

There are many factors that increase the risk of falling. The more of these risk factors a person has, the higher the chance that he or she will fall. This is why the professional home health Scottsdale providers at  Nightingale Homecare perform a very detailed fall risk evaluation of each patient. We want to uncover every risk factor, so that we can discuss the risk with each patient and his or her caregivers and create the most successful fall prevention plan.

Some of the Factors That Can Increase the Risk of Falling

  • Problems walking or moving around, regardless of the cause
  • Weakness
  • Balance problems
  • Vision problems
  • Sensory problems, including lack of sensation in the feet (neuropathy)
  • Medications that cause drowsiness, dizziness or low blood pressure
  • Urinary urgency or incontinence
  • Uncontrolled pain
  • Wearing certain types of shoes
  • Low blood pressure
  • Problems with thinking, problem solving or decision making
  • Improper use of walkers, canes or other assistive devices
  • Not having the house set up to allow safe activities of daily living; for example, having to reach too high or stoop too low for frequently used items
  • Having cluttered stairways and walkways, poorly lit rooms, unsecure carpets, damaged floors and other issues within and outside the home

Caregiver Observations: Your Loved One

The following is a list of observations to watch for in your loved one while you are caring for him or her.

  • State of Mind
    • Is your loved one confused, anxious or depressed?
    • Does your loved one make decisions that jeopardize his/her safety?
  • Vision and Hearing
    • Is your loved one using glasses and/or hearing aids consistently and appropriately?
  • Strength, Mobility and Balance
    • Does your loved one get up safely?
    • Does your loved one lean on furniture and walls while walking?
    • Does your loved one wear long robes or other clothing that could be tripped on?
    • Is your loved one wearing safe footwear?
    • Does your loved one get dizzy or light-headed when getting up?
    • Does your loved one have to hurry to get to the bathroom to avoid having an “accident”?
    • Does your loved one move too quickly?
    • Does your loved one reach for objects that are too low or too high or seem to lose his/her balance when reaching?
    • Does your loved one have any new bruises, scrapes or skin tears?

Caregiver Observations: The Environment

Pay special attention to your loved one’s environment, and note the issues that may lead to a fall.

  • Is there enough light for your loved one to see effectively?
  • Is there anything on the floor your loved one could trip on?
    • Scatter rugs
    • Wires/electrical cords
    • Oxygen tubing
    • Furniture
    • Pets
    • Clutter
  • Are there uneven surfaces, loose tiles, torn carpet?
  • Is your loved one sitting on a firm chair that has arms?
  • Is your loved one using his/her walker/cane at all times and in a safe manner?
  • Does your loved one have frequently used items within reach in the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom?
  • Does your loved one have grab bars, non-skid bathmat and a shower/tub chair?

What to Do with Your Observations?

When you notice problems that will increase your loved one’s fall risk, there are things you can do immediately to help reduce the risk and keep your loved one safe in his or her home.

When problems are observed, take the following actions:

  • Notify your loved one’s physician about your concern
  • Remind your loved one to wear his/her glasses and hearing aids – make sure the glasses are clean and find out if the hearing aids work
  • Remind the person to do his/her exercises, and provide assistance
  • Remind the person to use assistive devices and show him/her how if reinforcement is needed (an occupational and physical therapist evaluation can help with this)
  • Remind your loved one about which footwear is safest and help him/her choose and apply the safest footwear
  • Remind your loved one of the risk for falling if clutter, cords or other trip hazards are visible; move these items out of the way
  • Remind your loved one that a sturdy chair with arms is safest for him/her to sit in; help the person select the safest chair available and make sure it is accessible
  • Consider an occupational therapist evaluation to determine any supplies that your loved one needs but does not have, such as incontinence products, non-skid slippers, non-skid bathmat, etc.
  • Report any changes in behavior, ability or status to your loved one’s physician immediately, including:
    • Eating habits
    • Changes in ability to move around
    • Increases in shortness of breath
    • Skin changes

At Nightingale Homecare, providers of the highest quality home health Scottsdale families trust, we’re always on hand to perform an in-home safety evaluation, to provide you with additional resources and recommendations to enhance safety, and to improve overall health and wellbeing with our personalized, professional home care services for seniors. Contact us at (602) 504-1555 any time to learn more!