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  • Writer's pictureDavid Lange

Pride Goeth Before the Fall

I don't know many people who really enjoy the process of aging.  I know I prefer the way I felt when I was still in my twenties and like most people I fight the aging process as much as I can.

We shouldn't be surprised then when that attitude continues even when we require additional help for everything from walking and getting in and out of a car to requiring assistance bathing or eating.

There are a number of emotional obstacles to overcome as we age.  Sometimes that comes down to communication as well.  At some level, residents know they should ask for help to go to the bathroom but our pride now becomes an obstacle.  In particular men do not want to appear weak or vulnerable, even to their caregivers.  We all want to create an appearance of strength and health.

Some studies link a reluctance to communicate health needs as an evolved survival instinct. Early humans who did not appear healthy and strong were more likely to be attacked. Whatever the reason, we need to understand that a patient's reluctance to communicate the need for assistance stems from a very normal desire to assert our independence.  Our need to remain independent including the ability to stand and walk on our own becomes a battle for our own desire not to appear disabled in any way.

There are some universal precautions for helping reduce falls, and here is a reminder:

  • Place a patient's bed in a lowered position when they are resting, and in a raised position for transferring out of a bed

  • Keep hospital beds and wheelchair brakes locked

  • Make sure that patients use nonslip footwear

  • Provide nightlights

  • Keep floor surfaces clean and dry

  • Keep patient care areas uncluttered

  • Follow safe patient handling practices

Other ideas include:

  • Make sure patients get used to using the call light to summon assistance when getting out of bed

  • Become familiarized with the environment

  • Keep personal belongings within safe reach

  • Employ sturdy handrails in bathrooms, hallways and rooms

We should also remember that patients may still fall from time to time.  The average cost for a fall with an injury exceeds $14,000 and over a third of falls in elderly residents result in an injury.

Much of the challenge in reducing falls in the elderly comes from the challenge of each individual to appear strong and indepedent and walk on their own.  We cannot control human nature but using some of the tools available from Curbell can absolutely reduce the risk of injury due to a serious fall.

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