Avoiding And Dealing With Falls While Caring For The Elderly
Anyone that has even a tiny amount of experience in caring for the elderly
will be able to alert you to the pitfalls and hazards of the job as primary
caregiver. One of the first things that any of these individuals will mention
to you that relate directly to your role is the constant danger of falls. The
elderly, as a collective, have an astonishing number of falls every year.
This can be attributed to a variety of factors but is primarily a result of
feeling and being unstable on their feet. Their bodies are not agile enough to
avoid falls and repeated episode could cause more harm than good. As elderly
bones are more brittle that those of younger generations then they can easily
be broken. Dislocated and fractured hips are the bone break of choice for most
elderly individuals and can be extremely painful and debilitating. As a result,
you need to be aware of the hazard and prevent it before it happens.
As prevention is better than cure when it comes to elderly falls and
resultant hospital trips, it may be wise to put preventative measure in place
to head off falls before they occur. Maintaining the safety and security of an
elderly individual can be very difficult initially because you do not have eyes
in the back of your head. It can take a while to become used to their
movements, habits and routines. If you watch them closely enough over a period
of time then you will soon be able to anticipate their moves before they make
them. This can help to prevent falls because you will be able to spot danger a mile
off. However, it is not a solution that can be used in the short term, and you
do need to be able to prevent falls occurring as soon as possible after you
become their primary caregiver.
The first thing that you should do to prevent trips and falls actually has
nothing to do with the elderly individual in general terms. Instead, you should
focus on their immediate environment. You should remove all possible tripping
hazards in their home. Everything from rugs and loose carpeting to small
objects that are used to decorate a room should be removed. They can all be
hazardous in the right situation, or wrong situation as the case may be! You
should also look into effective methods of controlling falls.
If the elderly individual that you look after does experience a fall in the
home, then it is of the utmost importance that you know exactly how to deal
with the situation. Firstly, you need to remove all hazards from around the
individual to allow you to get closer and assess the damage. You must then
administer first aid if it is appropriate to do so. Try not to move the
individual until you are certain that there is no damage to joints and limbs.
If there is or you think that he or she may have sustained a head injury, then
you should immediately call an ambulance. Just keep your relative warm and as
comfortable as possible until the paramedics arrive.
Falls represent very real hazards in the home and you must always be
prepared to deal with them. You will inevitably have to deal with them at some
stage, no matter how well prepared you are, but removing the means will reduce
the amount of falls and hopefully lower the severity of the injuries.
Jim Pollard, Co-host
Fabulous Fifties and Beyond