Preventing Falls: Why is it so Important? - American Hospital Supply

Preventing Falls: Why is it so Important?

Brian Barkeley ·

Falls pose a significant risk in healthcare settings, nursing homes, and private residences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one out of every four Americans aged 65 and older falls each year, marking falls as a leading cause of injury and loss of independence among older adults.

As age increases, so does the risk of severe injuries from falls, which can lead to hospitalization and complicated recoveries. Additionally, the fear of falling may prompt older adults to reduce their activities, resulting in decreased independence, increased isolation, and diminished quality of life. 

It is crucial to address various contributing factors, such as medical conditions, medication use, substance misuse, and environmental hazards, to reduce the risk of falls. Implementing preventive measures—like engaging in regular physical activities that enhance balance and strength, making safety modifications in the home, and seeking tailored medical advice—can help older adults maintain their safety and independence. Ultimately, prevention is the key to preserving health and autonomy.

Preventing Falls in Hospitalized Patients:

Hospitalized patients, particularly older adults or those with mobility impairments, face an elevated risk of falls due to factors like unfamiliar surroundings, medication side effects, and weakened physical conditions. Falls in hospital settings can result in severe injuries, extended hospital stays, and increased healthcare costs. These incidents can also significantly disrupt the patient's recovery and quality of life. Hospitals use different strategies to prevent falls and minimize associated risks. Some of them are listed below:

  1. Patient Education:

One of the most important steps in ensuring patients' safety is to educate them and their families on fall risk factors and how to prevent them. Encouraging active participation in fall prevention includes instructing on using assistive devices and the importance of signalling for help when needed.

  1. Environmental Modifications:

Improving the environment is vital to reduce the risk of falls in hospitals. This includes good lighting, clear pathways, non-slip flooring, and staff trained in safe patient transfer and mobilization. The patient's room should be well-lit, with no clutter, bathroom grab bars, non-slip footwear, and hospital socks. Frequently used items should be easy to reach.

  1. Assistive Devices:

Assistive devices, such as walkers, canes, and gait belts, improve stability and mobility and reduce the risk of falls.

  1. Patient Monitoring Systems:

Wearable sensors and patient alarms can help healthcare staff monitor patients susceptible to falls in real time and prevent potential risks.

Preventing Falls in Nursing Homes:

Nursing homes use various strategies to keep their residents safe. Some preventive measures include maintaining residents' environment clean, monitoring their health, and providing medical care when needed. These measures help ensure that residents receive the care and attention they need to maintain their health and well-being. 

  1. Comprehensive fall risk assessments:

Caretakers and nurses can be the eyes and ears of residents, observing their gait, balance, and any physical limitations that might increase fall risk. They can report these observations to nurses for further assessment.

  1. Exercise programs:

Encouraging residents to engage in gentle exercises can significantly enhance their balance and strength. Activities might include walking in the hallways or participating in seated exercises. While ensuring safety, it's important for caretakers to respect residents' independence, offering help when necessary but allowing them to perform tasks on their own when safe.

  1. Environmental modifications:

Nursing home assistants can be crucial in keeping resident rooms and common areas free of clutter and tripping hazards. Ensuring proper lighting, placing non-slip mats in bathrooms, and keeping frequently used items within easy reach can significantly reduce fall risks.

  1. Assistive devices:

The nursing home staff can help residents get accustomed to using assistive devices like canes, walkers, or grab bars. They can also ensure these devices are functioning correctly and used in the right way for maximum support.

Preventing Falls at Home:

While considerable attention is given to preventing falls in healthcare settings, addressing fall risks in the home environment is equally important. Many falls occur in the comfort and familiarity of one's home, where poor lighting, cluttered spaces, and the absence of assistive devices can increase risk, particularly for older adults or those with mobility challenges. Implementing a few key strategies can significantly enhance home safety:

  1. Home Environment Assessment:

Conduct a thorough safety assessment of the home to identify and mitigate potential hazards. Address issues such as loose carpets, inadequate lighting, or narrow pathways. This proactive approach helps create a safer living environment, reducing the likelihood of falls.

  1. Bathroom Modification:

The bathroom is a common site for falls. Install grab bars next to the toilet and in the shower or bathtub to provide sturdy support. Non-slip mats should be placed inside the shower, outside the bathtub, and on other bathroom floors to prevent slipping on wet surfaces. Additionally, consider raised toilet seats for those who struggle with sitting down or standing up from a standard toilet height. 

  1. Assistive devices:

Assistive devices help individuals with mobility issues easily maintain independence and carry out daily activities. Walkers, for instance, can offer stability and support when walking, while canes are useful for those who require less support. Reaching aids allow individuals with limited mobility to grasp objects without stretching or bending, minimizing the risk of falls.

  1. Clearing clutter:

Maintain clutter-free living areas to ensure pathways are clear and safe navigation. Remove any obstacles that could potentially cause tripping.

  1. Proper lighting:

Install adequate lighting throughout the home, particularly in hallways, stairwells, and other transition areas. Good lighting is crucial for avoiding falls, especially at night or in dimly lit conditions.

Top Medical Supplies for Falls Prevention:

Investing in appropriate medical supplies can also contribute to fall prevention efforts. Here are some top products to consider:


  1. Gait Belts: These sturdy belts wrap around a patient's waist to provide support and stability during transfers or walking. Equipped with handles for caregivers to assist, gait belts help reduce the risk of falls. They are available in various sizes and materials to accommodate different needs.


  1. Hospital socks: Non-slip hospital socks feature treaded soles that improve traction, reducing the risk of slips. They are made from comfortable, breathable materials and are available in various sizes and colors. These socks are suitable for use in both hospital and home settings.


  1. Fall Prevention Mats: Placed beside beds or chairs, these shock-absorbent mats can cushion falls and minimize the risk of serious injuries. They are available in different sizes and thicknesses to meet various needs.


  1. Side Rails: The side rails are attached to the sides of a bed and help prevent individuals from rolling out of bed and falling. They come in various lengths and heights and can be adjusted to fit different beds.


  1. Patient Alarms: These alert systems notify caregivers when a high-risk individual attempts to move without assistance. Available as bed exit alarms or wearable sensors, these alarms can be tailored to meet specific requirements.


  1. Commodes: Portable toilets offer a safe and accessible alternative for patients who cannot use a traditional toilet, and commodes help reduce the risk associated with transfers to and from the bathroom. They are available in various styles and sizes.


  1. Walkers and Rollators: Walkers and rollators are assistive devices that offer stability and support during ambulation. These devices come in different styles, such as four-wheeled or two-wheeled, and they can be customized to suit various needs and preferences. Walkers and rollators promote independence and reduce fall risks.


  1. Bathmats: Bathmats are non-slip mats that can be placed in the bathroom to prevent slips and falls, a high-risk area. These mats typically have suction cups or treaded surfaces that improve traction and grip. They are available in various sizes, colors, and materials.


  1. Reaching Aids: Reaching aids, such as grabber tools or long-handled reachers, allow individuals to safely retrieve items without overreaching or straining, reducing the risk of falls. These devices come in different lengths and styles to suit different needs and preferences, and they can be used in various settings, such as home or hospital.


Preventing falls is essential and requires a comprehensive approach. This includes education, environmental changes, assistive devices, and regular monitoring. By using these strategies, healthcare facilities, nursing homes, and individuals can reduce the risk of falls and the associated physical, emotional, and financial consequences.

Each fall prevented can protect life and bring us closer to ensuring the safety and well-being of our loved ones. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize fall prevention strategies and invest in appropriate medical supplies.

Looking for reliable medical equipment and supplies to enhance your fall prevention strategies? American Hospital Supply offers various products designed for hospitals, homes, and nursing facilities. Explore our offerings and order medical supplies online to help maintain safety and independence for those at risk.

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