With today being Falls Prevention Awareness day, I thought I would share some important tips of preventing falls.
According to the National Council on Aging, there are 5 things one can do to prevent falls:
Talk to your doctor and get an assessment of your risk of falling
Review your medication with your doctor, sometimes side effects may be causing falls
Find a good balance and exercise program
Get your vision and hearing checked every year
Ask your family for help and support
This last one really hits home with me because my grandfather had a couple of falls and in hindsight we should have seen it coming.
Shortly after my grandmother passed away we started noticing changes in my grandfather. Not anything significant, but we did recognize that he moved a bit slower and lacked the energy we were used to seeing. Since he had just lost his wife, we figured this was just part of the grieving and aging process and thought nothing of it, until my mom started getting phone calls in the middle of the night. “Judy, can you come over here?’ he would ask- and in a panic my mom would drive over to his apartment to help him out.
It was usually something small he needed help with- sometimes he was waking from a dream and was frightened, other times he had been incontinent and needed help. My mom would settle him down, get him cleaned up and back into bed safe and sound. This was mildly inconvenient for my mom, but not a huge deal since the phone calls were fairly infrequent. Until the night when the phone call was more serious, he had broken his hip and this changed everything.
Looking back, we should have recognized those early phone calls for what they were- a cry for help. He was a prideful man, and fiercely independent- and we wanted to honor that in him by allowing him to live independently- but at the same time, here was a person who was clearly in need of some assistance.
Because of the lack of support, he had a fall. Luckily, he was able to call 911 and was taken to the emergency room. He had broken his hip and would need surgery. This meant that his life was going to change dramatically. He could no longer live in his apartment- instead he was moved to a skilled nursing facility where he could have more supervision and medical care to recover from his surgery.
Unfortunately, being the strong willed person that he was, he still kept trying to get out of bed on his own- and about 2 months after the first fall- ended up falling for a second time and breaking his hip on the other side. This meant another surgery- and even more recovery.
At this point my family decided to hire private care through Capability Homecare to supplement the staff at the skilled nursing. He needed more supervision than the SNF could provide.
Having someone by his side to help with getting ready and into bed was important. And once he was asleep, knowing someone was right there in case he got up un the middle of the night allowed him (and my mom) to sleep soundly knowing help was nearby. He could get up and use the restroom when he wanted, knowing the aide would assist him in getting there and help with cleaning up any accidents. In the morning when we woke up, someone was right there to assist him in getting out of bed and dressed for the day. This brought peace of mind to the entire family and is a decision I only wish we had made earlier.
If you have a loved one who you think might have had a fall (or two), or be at risk for a fall, consider hiring a caregiver to give them the support they need. Many falls can be prevented- and a caregiver can be on hand to ensure that your loved one is safe.
Capability Homecare can help with bathing (most falls occur in the bathroom), or help with preparing and eating meals, they can help with ambulation (getting in and out of bed and chairs) and can help getting up or down stairs. They can assist your loved one with the ADL’s that may no longer be easy to do all alone.
Let Capability Homecare help keep your loved one safe.