Falls are a significant and troubling concern for elders. A recent series in the Minneapolis Star Tribune poignantly describes the losses to elders and their families associated with falls, including deaths which are numbered at 1000 occurring in Minnesota nursing homes from 2002 to 2008 according to a Star Tribune analysis.
Many factors put elders at risk for falls including: balance issues, medications and their side effects, environmental hazards, moves to new environments like hospitals and nursing homes, weakness, vision impairment, and chronic conditions like osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease and dementia to name but a few.
The geriatric care manager can serve as an advocate to those living in senior residences including senior housing, assisted living buildings and skilled nursing facilities when there is concern about safety and the risk of falls that is not being adequately addressed. The care manager can work with the care providers at the elder’s location to reduce the risk of falls through a thorough assessment of the client’s needs and development of a plan of care that assures adequate assistance, supervision and prevention measures.
By conducting a health history and review of systems, the care manager can identify health concerns which contribute to an increased risk of falling. It is particularly important to determine whether an individual is experiencing fall-provoking side effects from medications, such as dizziness or blood pressure fluctuations. If an individual is using a cane or walker, assuring these items are appropriate to the elder’s needs and are of the proper size is essential. Conducting a Neurobehavioral Cognitive Status exam will also help identify those at greater risk due to their ability to remember safety instructions, to call for help consistently, to understand why they need assistance and so forth.
The geriatric care manager has an important role in identifying risk factors specific to each client, developing strategies to eliminate or decrease these risks, and gaining the client’s and their care providers’ cooperation in implementing these strategies.
If you know an elder at risk for falls please contact us to discuss a free informational visit or to schedule a comprehensive assessment. Matrix AdvoCare Network at 952-525-0505 or view our website at www.matrixadvocare.com