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Falls have always been a safety concern for patients recuperating in the hospital, among the elderly in nursing homes, or for injured individuals living at home. Falls should not be taken lightly because they are an adverse incident that can potentially result in death or serious injury. Hospital patients and the elderly not only need to be aware of the many intrinsic and extrinsic factors that increase their risk of falling, but they also need to be educated about the precautions they can initiate to protect their body and their lives.
The Joint Commission designed a brochure in 2010 called Speak Up: Reduce Your Risk of Falling, which emphasizes the importance of how simple modifications can help reduce the risk of falling for older adults and hospitalized patients.
The brochure begins by presenting different causes of falls, like being physically weak, seeing issues, or their pathway was obstructed. The next section gives tips on how to reduce your risk of falling.
It first focuses on taking care of your health, such as being active and hydrating. Next, it mentions extra precautions, such as wearing non-slip shoes, not walking in the dark, and using handrails on staircases. Furthermore, it lists different ways that the home can be modified to help prevent falls, such as instilling night lights, keeping pathways cluttered free, or removing throw rugs that can slip. It explains that if the person lives alone and needs help with changing their home, there are agencies and community programs available that they can contact to help assist them.
Lastly, the final topic addresses precautions to take when in a medical facility, such as ask for help if they need assistance when getting out of bed or to walk around. In addition, the brochure discusses that it is important to communicate with your health care provider if any of your current medications “cause weakness, sleepiness, confusion or dizziness” (The Joint Commission, 2010, p. 2), since those side effects can affect your balance and increase your risk of falling.
The brochure was very straightforward and organized well. The cover page captured my attention immediately with the photo of the elderly man and by mentioning how millions of people are injured by falls annually. The brochure was not too cluttered with words and the simple statements inform and educate the reader about the different causes of falls and specific actions to take. In regard to what could have been improved, the inside of the brochure needed a couple more visually appealing images and the font sizes could have been larger. The inside of the brochure seemed to be a little bland and the smallest font size may not be as easily readable to an older person.
This topic interested me because it reminded me of my elderly father. While he was in his mid-eighties, he became a high risk for falls. He refused to listen to the nurses and our family about being more cautious and implementing those extra precautions to prevent falls. At one point, we had to instill a locked gate at the bottom of our staircase in order to prevent my father from walking up the steps and falling. The worst fall he had was when he fractured his back and cut his head after slipping and falling down on the icy sidewalk. That fall had confined him to a wheel chair and it not only took away his independence, but it also worsened his health.
The information provided in the brochure was beneficial because it highlighted essential actions that can be taken to help reduce falls. I could incorporate this information in my patient education, since it would be very relevant to their plan of care and maintaining their safety. My patient’s safety is a number one priority and I want them to be prepared and be able to prevent any potential accidents that could threaten their well-being and health.
The information was presented clearly because it used clear and descriptive language to inform the reader about the different changes that could be made to prevent falls. The advice given was thorough and I was able to comprehend each point. Current healthcare related research did support the information presented in the brochure. For instance, one study found that “group and home-based exercise programs, along with home safety interventions, reduce the rate of falls and risk of falling” (Taylor-Piliae, Peterson, & Mohler, 2017, p. 492). The advice from the brochure had mentioned that exercise and making those modifications in the home can help decrease the risk of falls, so it is consistent with these evidence-based findings.
The population that will benefit the most from this brochure is the elderly, since “falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in older adults” (Taylor-Piliae et al., 2017, p. 490). Those that are recovering in the hospital or at home from sickness or an injury can also use this information. The facts provided will increase patient safety because it is proven that individuals that take care of their health and implement those interventions are not only protecting themselves from a potential fall, but they are drastically reducing their chances of falling. The patient will become much safer from falls when enacting those precautions, modifying their home, and taking care of their health.
Therefore, it is so important that older adults and hospitalized patients are educated and understand that these interventions can help reduce their risk of falling and keep them safe. Whether it be taking care of your body with exercise and hydration, instilling modifications like grab bars in the bathroom, eliminating those hazards in the home, or speaking up to ask for help, any small change or extra action can help maintain their safety. If the rate of falls decreases, so does the rate of injuries, hospitalizations, and fall-related deaths among older adults and other individuals.
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