How to Prevent Falls from a Wheelchair in Nursing Homes
Reputable nursing homes typically take many steps to prevent falls and ensure the safety of their residents. This process usually begins with identifying the potential causes of falls, putting a plan in place to reduce the chances, and getting the team on board to follow the measures effectively. Thus, when moving to a nursing home, you can ask about their fall prevention measures. This is particularly essential if you need a wheelchair because it requires specialized infrastructure, a support system, and care. Read on to learn more about falls from wheelchairs and how to prevent them when living in a nursing home to be better prepared in your senior years.
Main Reasons for Falls from Wheelchairs
The three general elements that result in falls from wheelchairs are as follows:
- Imbalance or physical weakness due to age
- Confusion (often associated with the advanced stage of a health condition or side effects of a medication)
- Unsuitable environmental fit
In many situations, all the factors may be present. This is why it is best to talk to the staff about your needs and potential obstacles in the facility, so you can determine the best ways to overcome them.
Proper Evaluation Procedure for Preventing Falls in Seniors
The best thing to do if you experience a fall is to consult a professional and identify the cause, including physical weakness, mental condition, and environmental fit. They will evaluate your strength and the ability to move from the wheelchair, understand your medical history, perform an initial evaluation, recommend the necessary tests, study the result, and advise suitable measures. An occupational therapist can also help you minimize the risk of falls.
10 Tips to Prevent Wheelchair Falls in a Skilled Nursing Home
If you are more at risk of experiencing falls due to your health or aging, here are the most common recommendations to help reduce the possibility when residing in a nursing home:
Increase the Level of Assistance
When enlisting in a nursing home, it is wise to communicate the level of support you need to use your wheelchair. It can range from independent to maximum. The details will be shared with the staff and adequately documented to ensure they are easily accessible when required. If you experience an unexpected, they will increase the assistance level until the specialists thoroughly assess your physical health and recommend the proper care.
If the main reason for falls from a wheelchair is less strength, imbalance, or other similar factors, you may benefit from a therapy program to address the problem. You can learn many essential things from a short course with an experienced therapist in the nursing home and implement them to enhance your safety when using a wheelchair.
A wheelchair alarm is designed to sound when you begin to stand up and will alert the nursing home staff immediately so they can come to your assistance. Meanwhile, it helps to remain calm and cautious to prevent severe injuries.
This feature modifies your seat’s incline on the wheelchair from flat to slightly toward the back. When you use this, it reduces your chances of sliding forward and falling off the wheelchair.
Reminders to the Staff
Although this is a simple measure, it effectively decreases the possibility of wheelchair falls. All you need to do is post a sign in your room to remind yourself and the staff about the safety precautions to adhere to. You may choose something like the following:
- Please call for help when standing up from your wheelchair
- Please remove leg rests from the wheelchair
- Please be cautious when sitting in the wheelchair
Rearranging the Room
If you think some of the objects in the room are kept too low, making it difficult for you to access them from your wheelchair, ask the nursing home staff to rearrange them. Similarly, ensure nothing in the area is placed too high for a person using a wheelchair.
Consider Using a Reacher
A reacher is a perfect tool to pick small items, such as tissues, from a shelf or off the floor. You can keep it in a bag on the back of your wheelchair so you can easily access it when needed.
Safety Measures in Temporary Living Spaces or Medical Rooms
If you are assigned a room considering your needs, you can be assured of the proper safety standards. However, sometimes, the problem is the temporary accommodation or the general medical rooms where you may not have the usual tools for assistance. You may face problems because of too high beds, no grab bars in the restroom, overlooking non-slip mats in the bathroom, and more. The best way to manage such situations is to talk to the staff so they can come up with adequate solutions.
Ensuring Proper Footwear
Even when using a wheelchair, it is essential to use proper footwear to avoid falls. Instead of wearing slippers and socks, slip-ons, or going barefoot, you may consider using lace-up or strap-ons or rubber-soled firm shoes that fit correctly.
An active lifestyle plan and exercise programs can help improve your balance and gait. In addition, ask your doctor if you can reduce the use of a wheelchair in the long run.
Choose the Best Nursing Home in Rhode Island
The Holiday Retirement is known for being a thoughtfully designed, top-notch skilled nursing home in Rhode Island. We offer excellent amenities and expert staff assistance to ensure our residents are safe, healthy, and comfortable. We will understand your needs and treat you with the love, care, dignity, and respect you deserve.
If you are searching for a nursing home in Providence, please call us at 1-401-765-1440. You can also book a facility tour by filling out our online form. We will ensure you have the support you need for a short-term stay to recover after an illness or surgery and the assistance for a more extended stay.