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Caregivers Guide to Fall Prevention

Caregivers: Your Guide to Fall Prevention

by Ariss Pierce, PT, DPT, Cert. MDTLeave a Comment

Choosing to become a caregiver for a loved one or friend is a kindhearted act. Deciding to provide personal care for someone takes patience and attentiveness. Grocery shopping, housework, cooking, and managing services are typical duties of a caregiver. Along with day-to-day assistance, creating a safe environment is very important to minimize injury to yourself and others.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention highlights that “more than one out four older people fall each year, but less than half tell their doctor.”1 Sustaining a fall may result in bone fractures and subsequent surgery. Prolong immobility post-surgery could lead to developing pneumonia, a condition causing inflammation within the lungs. The first defense as a caregiver is to create a space that decreases the risk of falling. You can use the checklist below to identify possible barriers in your home.

Environmental Fall Risk Checklist

  • Fix carpet edges and rugs to the floor
  • Remove all slippery rugs and mats
  • Position furniture three feet apart to allow easy passage of a walker or cane
  • Encourage use of non-skid tread socks
  • Install grab bars near the shower and toilet
  • Consider durable medical equipment (i.e., shower chair or raised toilet seat)
  • Use night lights to improve visibility
  • Invest in hardback chairs with armrests to assist in standing

Beyond environmental factors, there are other intrinsic influences that may contribute to one’s fall risk. These are a few questions you can reflect upon to see if physical therapy would be helpful to reduce their risk:

Personal Fall Risk Checklist

  • Does my loved one need balance training?
  • Would they benefit from strengthening to assist with mobility?
  • Have they been bedridden and require conditioning to improve their overall fitness?
  • Which medications could contribute to falling? (be sure to ask the medical doctor)

As a caregiver, it is essential to be mindful of your own mental and physical health. There are several tips available to help manage stress and burnout that can arise when caring for someone. If you are feeling unwell, talk to your doctor to discover healthy ways to improve your stress levels. Walking, biking and yoga are great physical activities that could help relieve stress. Read below for tips to perform a self-check to ensure you are physically protecting yourself.

Caregiver Self Check

  • Am I stretching before or after lifting or assist with transfers?
  • Do I know how to transfer my loved one from one surface to another properly?
  • Can physical therapy address the pain I am experiencing?

Contact Your Local Athletico

At Athletico Physical Therapy, our trained physical therapists can assist you in identifying some of the answers to your questions. We are experts in managing musculoskeletal pain, creating programs for fall prevention, and proper transfer training. Schedule a Free Assessment to learn how we can support you and your loved ones. Free Assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our Telehealth option.

Request a Free Assessment

Physical therapy is usually the thing you are told to do after medication, x-rays or surgery. The best way to fix your pain is to start where you normally finish – with physical therapy at Athletico.

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

References:
1 Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Older Adult Fall Prevention. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2021, www.cdc.gov/falls/facts.html. Accessed 8, August, 2021
2 Smith, Melinda. Caregiver stress and Burnout. HelpGuide, 2020, www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/caregiver-stress-and-burnout.htm. Accessed 7, August 2021.

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