Falls Happen: Reducing Risks & Injuries with Fall Prevention Interventions
The Need for Fall Protection and Prevention
Falls happen, and those at highest risk for injury and mortality are older adults. Falls at home can trigger a hospitalization and a cascade of additional healthcare needs, and costs. According to the CDC, nearly 25% of seniors report at least one fall per year1, resulting in almost 3 million emergency department visits2. Almost 1 million older adults require hospitalizations because of a fall, and more than 27,000 of these falls result in death1,2.
The CDC estimates that medical expenses related to non-fatal falls is more than $50 billion a year, with Medicare and Medicaid covering most of these costs. It’s estimated that $754 million is the cost of fatal falls for older adults. As the population of older adults grows, we can expect the number of falls and cost to treat them to soar.
Although a fall at home can lead to a hospitalization, hospitals are often locations for fall incidents. According to the Agency for Healthcare Quality & Research (AHRQ), each year “...between 700,000 and 1,000,000 people in the United States fall in the hospital.”
Discover technologies and fall prevention products to help deliver safer care.
Learn more about Fall Prevention Devices and Interventions
Healthcare teams can find evidence-based interventions to reduce the risk of falls in individuals as well as system-based approaches to improve safety within specific care settings. Effective programs can reduce the risk of falling, and the risk of injury when a fall occurs.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) provides evidence-based tools for building a fall risk reduction program.
The Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) offers toolkits for teams focused on fall reduction in hospitals, and long-term/post-acute care settings. Resources are for Hospitals and Long-Term / Post-Acute Care Settings.
Assessing Fall Risks
Prior falls, age, medications, and changes in vision, cognition, & nutrition are essential considerations when assessing fall risk. Also critical to consider are balance, mobility, or a person’s fear of falling. 70% of people who fall are fearful of falling again. Fear leads to limiting physical or social activity, leading to increased risk for falls.
Technologies and products offer meaningful ways to reduce the risk of falls, helping teams deliver safer care.
Building Confidence via Gait & Mobility Training
Strength & endurance decrease with age—resulting in increased risk of slips, trips and falls. Immobility leads to deconditioning and increases risk for falls and foot issues including arthritis, neuropathy, & ulcers increase issues with balance.
- Balance Assessment devices, either stand alone, or embedded into treadmills, offer an objective way to assess risk and identify person-centered interventions. Baseline data supports clinical reassessment and documentation towards care plan progress.
- Exercise & strength training products such as cycles, resistance training, and weights offer both non-tech and technology options designed for ease of entry, use, and cleaning.
- Engaging & Confidence Building –Accessible, easy to use, and engaging user experiences increase the likelihood of ongoing exercise and strengthening which is critical to building confidence and reducing the fear of falling.
Invest in a Safer Environment with Fall Prevention Interventions
Research estimates 30-50% of falls in healthcare settings are linked to the environment. Lighting inadequate for people with vision impairments, uneven surfaces, slippery floors, wrong product purchases–can lead to a fall. Following are ideas to improve environmental safety:
A goal for implementing fall prevention and management products is to create safer care environments yet still allow for independence. Falls are most likely to occur in a resident/patient room or bathroom. Implementing fall prevention interventions in these locations can help improve safety in your healthcare setting.
Fall Prevention Tips for Resident & Patient Rooms:
Beds and Mattresses Fall Intervention Considerations:
- Bolstered mattresses and raised perimeters help reduce roll-outs.
- A comfortable mattress can reduce tossing and turning during sleep, helping to prevent rolls from bed
- A firm perimeter on the mattress can act as a soft reminder of where the edge of the mattress is, while providing a stable surface to transfer, and helping to keep the edge of the mattress from “waterfalling” when seated on the side.
- The reduced height of low beds can help minimize possible injury
- Wide beds offer additional sleeping space for moving around in bed and may reduce roll out falls
- Use the preprogrammed transfer height on select beds for additional safety and convenience.
Fall Prevention Intervention Accessory Considerations:
- An underbed light to improve vision if exiting bed during the night
- An bed assist bar can help with balance when exiting the bed and provides support for self re-positioning
- A bedside fall mat next to a bed in a low position may reduce risk of injury in certain situations. Fall mats should be used with caution. Avoid standing on a fall mat.
Fall Prevention Tips for Bathrooms
- Toilet risers can aid in egress and ingress
- Toilet safety frames offer additional support and stability on both sides of the toilet. Similarly, grab bars offer the same benefits and can be easily installed in showers, tubs, or near toilets.
- Bath benches and shower chairs allow safe and comfortable seating during bathing.
Safer Transfers Reduces Risk for Falls
Transferring a resident/patient from one surface to another can create a safety risk of injury for both the resident and caregiver if not done properly. OSHA guidance on safe-patient handling emphasizes the importance of using equipment and devices specifically designed to offload weight and to prevent injuries. Products such as sit-to-stand lifts and full body lifts provide a safe means for transferring residents, reducing the risk for falls and injury.
Learn more about Fall Prevention Technology
Amid COVID-19, there has been a 20% increase in falls3 for Memory Care residents. Now communities can take the guesswork out of unwitnessed falls with SafelyYou’s result-driven AI fall technology.
- Memory care residents fall 4X per year4,5
- Up to 90% of falls are unwitnessed4
- Up to 40% fewer falls5
- Up to an 80% reduction in fall-related ER visits4,6
How can you create the most effective fall prevention program?
Evaluation of each senior’s situation and environment is key for effectively knowing how to help prevent falls in elderly patients. By observing resident body mechanics and behaviors, you can determine which elderly fall prevention products, technology and room design updates are most appropriate for each individualized care plan.
For additional information on selecting fall prevention and management products, contact your account manager today at 1-800-634-7328 or fill out this form.
Elderly Fall Prevention and Management Blogs
10/17/2018Webinar: Reducing Fall Risk in Older Adults
Bergen G, Stevens MR, Burns ER. Falls and Fall Injuries Among Adults
Aged ≥65 Years — United States, 2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep
2016;65:993–998. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6537a2
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web–based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. Accessed August 5, 2016.
3 20% increase based on comparison of two four-week periods, one before COVID-19 and one when COVID-19 distancing protocols were in effect. Data based on detected falls in 23 communities using the SafelyYou solution.
4 Aggregated data from facilities prior to and after implementing the SafelyYou solution during a 32 week period in 2019-2020. Individual and community results will vary based on a variety of factors.
5 Van Doorn C, Gruber-Baldini AL, Zimmerman S, et al; Epidemiology of Dementia in Nursing Homes Research Group. Dementia as a risk factor for falls and fall injuries among nursing home residents. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2003;51(9):1213-1218.
6 Xiong GL, Bayen E, Nickels S, et al. Real-time video detection of falls in dementia care facility and reduced emergency care. Am J Manag Care. 2019;25(7):314-315.
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