Preventing Falls in Dementia and Alzheimer’s Patients: It’s a Team Effort

As we age, especially after we reach the age of 65, our risk of falling increases. When a person also has dementia or Alzheimer’s, the stakes are even higher. People with memory issues are three times more likely to experience a hip fracture after a fall.

Not only that, but following a hip fracture, the mortality rate is higher in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. That’s why it’s critical we do all we can to reduce the risk of falling and minimize injury.

Keeping clients safe

At Arthur’s we see fall prevention as a team effort, and it’s one of the things we focus on to protect the well-being of our clients.

First and foremost, clear walkways and well-lit rooms (without harsh lighting) are critical. Hand railings and pull bars for support are also essential for memory care patients. Because there’s an instinct to grab on to something that appears large and stable, it’s also important to avoid lightweight furnishings that can easily topple.

Finally, we make sure the things clients need are within easy reach.

Read more insights on falls and falling.

The home advantage

It’s not possible to prevent every fall. However, living in a residential-style space offers an advantage because someone is always nearby and aware to respond and help.

At Arthur’s, we’re focused on providing a calm, inviting living space, so it just feels right and familiar to our clients. That goes a long way toward putting them at ease and keeping stress to a minimum. Not only that but there’s always a caring, attentive caretaker nearby who can recognize when your loved one needs something, whether it’s a drink of water, a healthy snack or a change of clothes.

These things are important because patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s are no strangers to agitation and stress. But people don’t always recognize how these conditions can also be a contributing factor in a fall. Because when a dementia patient is feeling stressed or upset, that can scramble their decision-making process, make them unsteady on their feet and make them less mindful of their movements.

Since we know our clients so well — and they know us — we recognize immediately when someone is attempting to get around without their walker, contrary to their doctors’ orders. These things just don’t slip through the cracks.

It’s a team effort

Family members play an important role in our efforts to keep our clients safe. Most people want to bring certain things that would make their loved one’s room feel more like home. We encourage that. Familiar objects, especially if they’re sentimental, can send your loved one reassuring signals that they’re home. At the same time, we want to strike the balance of safety. That means we want to avoid throw rugs and any décor that can impede the walkway.

Well-fitted clothing and footwear with traction are two more safety considerations. Long bathrobes with belts, loose-fitting pants and stocking feet create tripping hazards, as can slippers with smooth bottoms. In addition to fit, look for pieces that are easy for your loved one to put on and remove by themselves.

Not all falls are preventable. But by taking these proactive and responsive steps, we can work together to keep your loved one safe.

Learn more about how we provide specialized care in our series “Insights from Arthur’s” featuring educational videos from Arthur’s Director of Development and Senior Care Consultant Deb Nygaard.