Thank you to Deena Goldstein for taking the time to share her expertise on fall prevention and home safety modifications to keep older adults safe in their homes.
Studies show a high incidence of falls occur following hospital/rehab discharge, particularly among patients who are functionally dependent on assistive devices and/or assistance upon return to their homes.
There are a few major risk factors related to falls after discharge:
- decline in mobility
- use of assistive devices
- cognitive impairment/confusion
- unaddressed environmental issues in the home (e.g. safety bars, shower chair, etc.)
Individuals who are functionally dependent but require interventions and assistance following discharge have the highest rate of falls. Many of which are due to lack of immediate attention and focus on how they are navigating their home environment and the risks posed in conjunction with the above stated issues.
Research has shown that a fall prevention home safety assessment and home safety modification interventions immediately following discharge critically reduces the risk of falls once at home. Working with discharge planners, care teams, family, and other providers dramatically reduces fall risk. A full clinical assessment of function, as it relates to how individuals are navigating their environment and doing daily tasks (toileting, showering, walking through the home), can indicate some necessary home modifications. The installation of safety grab bars, commode risers, shower chairs, ramps, and rails are just a few of the modifications which can be made to reduce fall risk.
Typically upon discharge, families and are overwhelmed and often don’t know where to turn for resources. The transition from hospital to home is a critical time period where patients are often in a weakened, tired, and cognitively impaired state. Family members rush to “get something in.” Simply having a “safety grab bar” won’t do the trick: clinical guidance is imperative for proper placement of any modification to reduce the risk of falls.
There are many things you can you do for your loved one prior to discharge to ensure they are fall free upon their return home:
- Coordinate any in-home care needed prior to discharge – have this in place upon the patient’s arrival home.
- Have an environmental safety assessment performed prior to or immediately following arrival home to ensure all interventions needed (safety grab bars, shower chairs, hand held showers, non-slip treatment for floors, ramps, railing, transport chairs, portable commodes, etc.) have been put in place to avoid unnecessary slip and fall accidents.
NOTE: Environmental modifications are very important post discharge – it’s critical that all installations be clinically guided to ensure they are appropriate for the specific individual’s physiological and ergonomic needs in their environment. A handyman can provide installation but does not have clinical experience necessary for proper installation to effectively reduce falls in the home.
Deena Goldstein, Owner