Fall prevention guide for caregivers

Caregivers, let’s talk about keeping you and your family safe and active.

It seems like common sense — everybody falls, no matter what age. However, for many older adults, an unexpected fall can result in a serious and costly injury. The good news is that most falls can be prevented. As the caregiver, you have the power to reduce your loved one’s risk of falling, and your own fall risk as well.

You can be a partner and a participant in falls prevention.

This conversation guide has many purposes. Use this guide as a tool of empowerment in your role as a caregiver. Use it if you or the person you are caring for has had a fall, is experiencing decreased mobility, is unsteady on their feet, or is fearful of falling. When needed, use it to talk with other members of your family or health care professionals about creating a falls prevention action plan.

Many people think falling is common as we age. The truth is, older adults can improve balance and strength. Taking action to address the risk of falling is an important way to stay healthy and independent as long as possible. Falls prevention activities are beneficial to everyone across the lifespan, and they can be fun!

Why is falls prevention important?

Fall are Common:

• Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. 1 in 4 older adults falls each year.

• Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall.

• Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.

Falls can cause serious injuries:

• Falls result in injuries, such as hip fractures, broken bones, and head injuries. In fact, more than 2.8 million older adults are treated in emergency departments annually because of a fall, resulting in over 800,000 hospitalizations.

Falls are costly:

• The average hospital cost for a fall injury is over $30,000. Falls, with or without injury, carry a heavy burden on quality of life. After a fall, many older adults develop a fear of falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. Fear of falling can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.

Falls impact caregivers:

• Research has shown that after a care recipient’s first fall, caregivers report a significant increase in caregiver burden, fear of falling, and depression.

For more information on how to discuss fall safety, click here to read the full National Councils on Aging Guide for Caregivers.

SOURCE: National Council on Aging