Reduce Your Risk of a Fall Injury in Long Term Care

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Falls are one of the leading reasons for injuries, especially for seniors.

That is why preventing falls is part of sound care for the elderly in long-term care. Four broad types of strategies can lower the chance of falls:

1) Maintain a healthy lifestyle
2) Stay on top of your health with care professionals
3) Be aware of a safe environment
4) Adopt safe personal habits

Start with a healthy lifestyle. When it comes to being stable, the right diet and levels of physical activity is a major foundation. Foods or supplements with calcium and vitamin D can strengthen your bones. Falls happen, but when they do people who have a healthy and balanced diet can cut the odds of a break.

Staying as active as possible is critical as well. Think about it - physical activity can build up your joints, muscles, balance, and flexibility. That's great for your overall well-being. It also makes you less likely to fall, and more likely to recover if you do take a tumble. Proper diet and activity routines should both be a focus of long term care services.

The second fall prevention approach involves working with health care professionals. In long term care (and in the community too) it's important to keep track of your health status. For instance, trouble with vision or controlling pain are issues in themselves, but can also make you prone to falls. So getting routine health assessments matters. So does letting health professionals know of changes in your condition.

In assisted living, many people are also on multiple medications. Understanding what you're taking, how much, and when to take it is simply good health care. Realize too that some prescription medication and side effects can raise the chances of falling. When professionals are on top of your health, they can offer advice on preventing falls.

A third strategy revolves around ensuring safe equipment and environments. In this case, equipment refers to things like your shoes, cane or walker. Use the right gear, like non-skid shoes. And know how to use gear right, like getting walking aids that fit you, and understanding how to get around with them safely.

Your environment is your living space. Whether in long term nursing care or other residences, all sorts of designs and practices can reduce the risk of falls. That includes using grab bars in the bathroom, having proper lighting and getting rid of clutter and tripping hazards.

Finally, a fourth fall prevention strategy concerns personal habits and awareness. Here's a simple one, for example: schedule your day so you avoid rushing. People often fall when they're in a hurry.

Pay attention to some danger signs too. If you get dizzy when you stand up fast, or if you're having foot problems, you might be at increased risk. Being aware can help you to be more cautious, or remind you to get help from a health care professional.

For anyone in long term care, it's important to look at the residence's total approach to falls. Think of how they evaluate risks, teach residents about the best ways to get around, offer recreation and therapy, provide a safe physical environment, and use their health professionals (from doctors to physiotherapists).

Ultimately, it takes the right balance - of programs and strategies - to help people stay active, enhance their health, and avoid falls.
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