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How to prevent falls in seniors after hospitalization


Falls are the leading cause of injury among seniors. In Canada, it is estimated that 20-30% of seniors experience one or more falls each year. This is alarming because injuries sustained from these falls sometimes lead to death.


The risk of falls gets higher after hospital discharge. According to one study, it has been found that seniors have "over twice the risk of sustaining a hip fracture after hospitalization, especially in the month after discharge and around one-third experience functional decline compared to their pre-admission level of activities of daily living." Fall intervention, then, is very important. This intervention includes exercises, vitamin supplementation and education.


Seniors who have been hospitalized for a period of time may have a fear of falling which makes them hesitant to perform exercises designed to help them regain balance and control. This can be a vicious cycle because fear of falling leads to inactivity and inactivity leads to poor balance which then may lead to falling.


So, how can falls be prevented among seniors who were newly discharged from the hospital?


One of the crucial things that needs to be considered when preventing falls among these seniors is physical therapy. According to an article published by the ACP Hospitalist, in-home physical therapy needs to be coordinated before a senior is discharged from the hospital. It further states, "teamwork among hospitalists, geriatricians, nurses, physical therapists and other providers is an essential component of the fall prevention effort." Effective communication among these care providers is very important in implementing a plan for the patient.


Education is also an important part of the whole process of preventing falls among seniors after hospital discharge. A study found that when patients were educated about the risks of falls, they were more motivated to participate in strategies to minimize them. Physiotherapists and kinesiologists have the knowledge and expertise to educate the patients about this topic.


There is no single fall prevention strategy that fits all seniors. Physiotherapists and kinesiologists know that the strategies that need to be implemented have to be designed for the specific needs of the patient. Here is where effective risk assessment parameters prove invaluable. There are screening parameters that are used to determine the best fall prevention exercises for the patient.


With good communication among care providers and effective patient education, fall prevention in seniors who were discharged from the hospital can be done successfully.


We conduct workshops and seminars for patients and nurses in care homes about fall prevention. Please contact us for more information at info@myhomerehab.ca or call 604-338-4912.

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