When Someone You Love Falls How you can help your loved one and yourself.
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When Someone You Love Falls How you can help your loved one and yourself
Sharing Experiences Would anyone like to share their experiences with family members who have fallen? What are you hoping to get out of this meeting?
In this session we’ll… learn about the problem of falls and the impact that a fall can have on the life of an older adult, learn about the kinds of services usually needed after a fall, and where these can be found in their community, understand some of the risks for falls and how these can be minimized to prevent future falls or minimize fall injuries, discuss ways that they can approach their loved one to talk about safety using a non-threatening, problem- solving approach, and reflect on the effect this has on their own stress level, and discuss ways of reducing their own stress.
Health and Occupation Health and well-being influence the ability to engage in life’s occupations – those activities that occupy our time and energy throughout the day. A fall can lead to changes in occupation – e.g. managing personal care, doing work around the house or getting out in your community. Such changes can lead to increased dependency, a lack of confidence and depression. By problem solving together you can identify positive steps that you can take to help your loved ones to do the things that are they value and find important.
The facts about falls Fall - “a sudden and unintentional change in position resulting in an individual landing at a lower level such as on an object, the floor, or the ground, with or without injury.” (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2005)
Facts about Falls 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 experience a fall each year. Falls are the second leading cause, after motor vehicle collisions, of injury related hospitalizations for all ages accounting for 29% of injury admissions. 62% of injury related hospitalizations for seniors are the result of falls. The fall related injury rate is nine times greater among seniors than among those less than 65 years of age. Of senior’s falls, 50% experience a minor injury, and 5-25% sustain a serious injury such as a fracture or sprain. 40% of admissions to nursing homes occur as a result of falls by older people. Even without an injury, a fall can cause a loss in confidence and a curtailment of activities, which can lead to a decline in health and function and contribute to future falls with more serious outcomes. A “20% reduction in falls would translate to an estimated 7,500 fewer hospitalizations, 1,800 fewer permanently disabled seniors, and a savings of $138 million annually.” (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2005)
What can you do to help prevent or minimize a future fall? Look at your loved one from the point of the “Person, Environment, Occupation”
The Canadian Model of Occupational Performance Person Occupation Environment Self Care Productivity Leisure Psycho-SocialCognitive Physical Social Cultural Institutional Townsend, E (ed), Enabling Occupation: An Occupational Therapy Perspective, Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, Ottawa, ON, 2002
Person Make sure that your loved one: gets involved in activities that can help to build or maintain balance and strength. has an annual physical to review medical conditions that might increase the risk of falls (arthritis, blood pressure problems, cardiac problems, etc). if taking multiple medications, brings all the medications, including over the counter medications that are taken regularly, to the annual physical for review. wears supportive, non-slip footwear and make sure regular foot care is received if independence in this area is difficult, has regular vision and hearing checks.
Occupation Help your loved one to: use only safe equipment when doing work around the house (e.g. a sturdy step ladder instead of a chair). always consider if there are safer and easier ways of doing the things (e.g. washing outside windows with a hose and detergent rather than climbing on a ladder and doing it). consider getting help with some of the heavier cleaning and maintenance
Environment Check the home to make sure that the lighting is good. Consider a remote control for the light next to the bed if getting up at night? Make sure all stairs and stair railings are in good repair and well lit? Make sure that the bathroom is safe. Is there a non-slip mat or surface in the tub and outside the tub? Are there grab rails for the bathtub and toilet? Would a bath seat and handheld shower be of benefit? Rearrange the furniture or change kitchen storage to reduce clutter and keep most commonly used items within easy reach
How do I talk to my loved one about this Approach the discussion from a positive, problem solving approach. Let them know that you value their independence and want to help them remain independent. Their health and safety is the concern. Ask questions and listen to what your family members say. Your purpose is not to threaten their control over their own life style, but to work with them to solve the problems that are threatening their safety and well-being. If your family members are not willing to listen to your concerns or if they dismiss your claims, you can take other measures. Call your family member’s doctor for guidance. Doctors can not discuss private information with you, but they may be glad to hear your insights. Some signs of medical problems are not easily spotted in a doctor's office, and your concerns may help the doctor understand what to look for in your parents on their next visit. Other relatives may also be able to offer help by managing some of the tasks that are a problem, or by talking to the family member about concerns they may have.
What you should know about your own stress? Take care of your own health. Just like on an airplane, where they tell you to put your own oxygen mask on before you help others, you will not be able to help others if you are not well yourself. Listen to your body. It will let you know something is wrong by raising your blood pressure, giving you headaches, or interfering with your sleep. Investigate products and services that can relieve the pressure. Services like personal alarm systems, housekeeping or personal care workers could make a difference in your level of personal anxiety.
What you should know about your own stress? (cont’d) Be realistic about how much care you are able to give. Look at the demands in the other areas of your life. Don’t let yourself be isolated from your friends and the people who support you. Remember to have some fun! Learn to ask for, and accept help. Talk to others who are also caregivers. Seniors’ centres or other community organizations may have support to help you manage stress and reduce isolation. Another benefit will be the practical advice that you can share.