I just attended a webinar on falls presented by Warren Hellelfinger, CEO of Bay Alarm Medical. Yes, it was a sales presentation but I learned some astonishing information and wanted to pass it along to you, as a caregiver or would-be caregiver.
First of all, falls happen. They don’t just happen in nursing homes (in fact, only 10% of falls happen in a nursing home). My father fell all the time. He would fall when I was 3 steps away from him. He kept telling me “don’t worry; I know how to fall” and he must have because he was never seriously injured from a fall later in life. The reason I say “later in life” is because a fall on a boom of logs was what broke his back, causing the doctors to perform a bone graft from his leg (OLD medicine) which made his one leg VERY weak.
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Statistics show that 69% of elders over the age of 70 WILL fall. That’s a HUGE number. Falls do not happen in convenient locations (i.e. in places where telephones just happen to be present).
There are things that we can do to prevent falls:
- eliminate throw rugs
- make sure that electrical cords are secured against walls
- provide for adequate lighting in walk-ways and all areas (remember to install night lights in hallways)
- avoid clutter
- make sure that all needed items are within reach so there is no temptation to use a stool or chair
- grab bars in bathrooms and sturdy handrails in places with steps are necessary
- medical conditons can make falls more likely, so be aware of those
- recent hospitalizations may have debilitated the elder
- keep the elder hydrated and consuming adequate nutrients
- be aware that vision and gait problems can also cause falls
- persons with dementia may forget that they cannot do a specific dangerous task
Falls occur most often in bathrooms and on stairways. There are usually no telephones in those areas.
Here were the facts that I found most alarming:
If a senior fell and the response time for help was less than 3 hours, they had an 88.5% chance of returning home from the hospital if they needed to be brought there. If the response time was longer than 12 hours, there was only a 2.7% chance that the elder would be able to return home! But guess what??? The median response time for an elder who falls is…………17 hours!
This is why a Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) is so important. One example of this is a button that is worn by the elder. If there is a fall, the elder can push the button which then sends a signal to an operator. This operator has information about the wearer, such as name, address, age, medications, allergies, personal physician, and location of a lock box where a spare key is hidden. The operator will immediately send a medical response team.
There are many PERS suppliers and it’s important to find a good one, of course. Check with both AARP.org and Alz.org for their recommendations. Also here is a good article on making sure that you are choosing an appropriate one.
I also want to give a shout out to Bay Alarm Medical as they are allowing a special price to our readers which can be taken advantage of until April 30th. They are offering a free 30 day trial with no shipping or handling charges for the equipment and no activiation fee. For anyone who contiues using the system, their monthly charge is $34.95. The PERS can be worn around the neck or wrist and is waterproof. Their phone number is 1-877-522-9633. Mention the word “webinar” for the free trial. (I have no affiliation with this company, nor do I receive a commission. Please do your research to make sure that your personal needs will be met before purchasing ANY product.)
Also, if you have a father like mine (slightly stubborn, shall we say) who did not wish to wear any sort of alarm, a couple of things that you might say to convince them are “this is to make ME feel better, Dad…….do it for me” . Or you might compare the system to the Triple A card that many of us carry around “just in case” and also that many of our parents gave to US when we first learned to drive. One other item you might try is to reinforce to them that wearing this device will actually help them to maintain their independence in the long run and isn’t that what they really want?
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