Fall prevention in the elderly can be a difficult topic to navigate with your loved ones. It’s natural for your aging relatives to hold on to their pride as they get older, so it’s no surprise that many of them deny needing any help getting around. But according to recent research, coming up with a specific fall-prevention plan might help older folks avoid a scary visit to the hospital later on.
The September 2018 research published in The Gerontologist found that older adults at risk for falls were less likely to suffer hospitalizations when they had a prepared “fall prevention plan” or “fall plan of care.” Researchers looked at 12,346 adults aged 65 and older and divided them into three groups: at-risk and no fall plan of care (FPOC), at-risk with a FPOC, and not at risk.
If you have a loved one who’s getting up there in age, you might be aware that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has an initiative called Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths and Injuries (STEADI). An approach for fall prevention in the elderly, the STEADI initiative was examined in this study for its impact on at-risk people who actually put it to use. Sure enough, four major aspects of STEADI gave these at-risk folks a helping hand to avoid fall-related hospital trips.
4 Steps for Fall Prevention in the Elderly
- Raise awareness about fall risk.
- Identify the individual’s risk for a fall.
- Discuss fall-risk prevention strategies.
- Provide referrals to fall-risk reduction programs in communities for older adults.
Researchers explained that these "fall-prevention activities" were shown to reduce fall-related hospitalizations for at-risk participants. And it sounds like the people who needed the tips in the study really took the lessons to heart.
"As a result of these interventions, older adults may be more conscious of conditions that contribute to falls, take steps to modify their home environment to reduce fall risk, and participate in fall-prevention programs and physical activities that improve strength and balance,” said corresponding author Yvonne Johnston in a press release. "These steps (what we called development of a fall plan of care) likely contributed to the observed lower rates of fall-related hospitalizations for older adults who were identified as being at risk for [a] fall.”
If you have a loved one who you suspect is in danger of falling on a regular basis, take him or her to the doctor to evaluate the risk. That way, you and the health practitioner can work together to devise a specialized fall-prevention plan to keep your loved one as safe and sound as possible. It pays to be prepared!