Perhaps your elderly mother has recently made the transition from her home to an assisted living facility. She fell in her bathroom shortly before moving to the ALF, and you worry she may fall again. What can you and the nursing staff do to help prevent a recurrence?
A little background
Falls are the leading cause of injuries and death among adults aged 65 and older. In fact, one in three older adults falls each year. Up to 30 percent of broken bones, hip fractures and head injuries in older people result from falls. Such injuries reduce mobility and, as a consequence, independent living. A fall may make the victim feel depressed and fearful of the possibility of another fall.
Internal versus external factors
As people age, they may experience changes to their vision, and bones and muscles become weaker. Your mother may have a problem with balance or depth perception. She may take a medication that affects her coordination. Perhaps she has trouble sleeping, which could make her less alert during the day. Problems that could contribute to a fall are not always internal, however. External factors include slippery surfaces, obstructions, lack of a support system such as a railing, or poor lighting conditions.
Life in an assisted living facility
ALF residents are mostly senior citizens. They may struggle with chronic conditions, and many have difficulty walking. They may need help to take care of themselves and move around. Some need canes or walkers.
How families and staff members can help
Be sure the assisted living staff has an up-to-date medical history for your mom. Following her move to the assisted living facility, staff should see that your mother has regular exercise to improve her balance and lower body strength. The personal effects your mom brought with her should not clutter up her room. There should be sufficient open space and no throw rugs on which she could slip. As she ages, your mother will become increasingly frail and more prone to falling. ALF staff must be responsible for the care of their residents. If your mother falls again, remember that you have legal options to discover how the incident happened and who may be at fault.