Tear jerking words that takes our breath away, “”Mom, please don’t Fall.” It causes alarm and panic for any family member that experiences repeated falls from their loved one. Falls remain the most common cause of Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI. Each year over 300,000 elderly adults are hospitalized due to falls. More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling sideways (Myers, Gerhart & Lipsitz.) What everyone should know about falls and the elderly is that they are preventable. I will repeat that falls are preventable. Falls are preventable with planning, organizing, and even partnering with agencies or healthcare providers to develop a fall prevention plan. My personal story:
It was about Spring 2019 when my own family found itself facing a series of repeat falls by the Matriarch of our family, my Grandmother, whom we call Grammy. I was contacted as the Nurse of the family by my Aunt, who explained that Mother keeps on falling. Every alarm in me went off as I understand how dangerous falls can be. I was nervous and shaky. Older adults have a hard time recovering from falls. They break hips and you know…really bad things happen when they fall. My only thoughts were Grammy; please don’t fall. We immediately held a conference call with those who were involved in Grammy’s care. During the call, I learned that some of the falls could have been purposeful, but others weren’t. Grammy being 87 years old, started infrequently using a cane to assist her when walking due to muscle weakness and excruciating hip pain. She really needed the cane at this time, but was refusing to use it or a walker since she is stylish and flashy, an impeccable dresser that is always concerned with her looks. She had chosen not to use a cane. I know to hear this many of us think this is absurd, but this way of thinking is widespread among the elderly. So how did we handle this? As the Nurse of the family, my very first comment and instruction to the family were. Whether the fall is intentional or not, it must be handled the same way, with compassion. Compassion is at the heart and root of all we do when addressing this complicated issue. Our approach is always, always, “Are you OK?”. Don’t move a limb or make any statements without first showing concern and compassion.
First and foremost, realize that any fall no matter the cause, intentional or not, can cause injuries. As a nurse, I have witnessed many incidents in which patients or clients fell unintentionally and hurt themselves. Some were severe injuries, and some weren’t.
Second, depending on the response you receive from the person who fell. You act accordingly. If the individual needs medical attention, call 911. It’s always better to have the person examined by a qualified healthcare professional than not to.
Third, please realize we must determine the cause of the fall. • Ask the person who fell what happened. In the scenario, I mentioned above. Family and group discussions were held around the use of the cane. The discussions included my Grandmother. • Partnering with the individual who fell regardless of why they fell helps build compliance. • Listen to the person who fell and use their ideas to help build a safety plan. • Get them to agree to the plan. When you get the individual to agree to the plan. A partnership is formed, an additional level of trust and rapport is established. This also shows that the individual is in control of their care. The elderly need to maintain their autonomy. How to partner with an agency for fall safety: Many agencies will call themselves fall advocates or say they specialize in fall safety. At Breakthrough Healthcare, we have more than 20 years in the medical field dealing with the Elderly. Nikki Lindsay MBA, BSN, RN, has been teaching fall prevention strategies in the hospital setting for over 5 years. We also use evidence-based practice fall strategies. With the complete understanding that nothing in this field is cookie-cutter, but every individual is unique. With this understanding, we customize care to bring the highest fall safety strategies into the homes of those we serve. Fall safety strategies and home assessments: Fall safety strategies can be as simple as replacing towel racks with grab bars to more in-depth home evaluation plans that allow a complete review of the home. Fall prevention strategies should aim at prevention, then detection. If you need a fall safety plan or want a home safety evaluation. Call Breakthrough Healthcare at 314-649-5586. Breakthrough Healthcare is all about technology. We are utilizing high-quality fall detection alarms and personal alarms that activate the emergency response system and family for falls. We are here to help and responsive to our clients.