Anyone that has even a tiny amount of experience in caring for an elderly person will be able to tell you about the pitfalls & hazards of the job as the primary caregiver.
One of the first things that any of they may mention that relates directly to your role, is the constant danger of falls for seniors. The elderly, as a collective, have an astonishing number of falls every year, this can be attributed to a variety of factors but is primarily a result of feeling and being unstable on their feet. Their bodies are not agile enough to avoid falls and repeated episodes could cause more harm than good. You see elderly bones are more brittle than those of younger generations so they can easily be broken. Dislocated and fractured hips are most common among seniors and can be extremely painful and debilitating. As a result, you need to be aware of the hazard and be able to prevent it before it happens.
As the saying goes “prevention is better than cure”, especially so when it comes to elderly falls and resultant hospital trips, it may be wise to put preventative measures in place in order to prevent falls before they occur. Maintaining the safety and security of the senior in your care can be very difficult initially because you do not have eyes in the back of your head. It can take a while to get used to their movements, habits and routines.
However, if you watch them closely enough over a period of time, you’ll soon be able to anticipate their moves before they make them. This can definitely help prevent falls because you will be able to spot danger a mile off. However, this is not a solution that can be used in the short term, and you need to be able to prevent falls occurring as soon as possible after you become their primary caregiver.
The first thing that you should do to prevent trips and falls actually has nothing to do with the elderly individual in general terms. Instead, you should focus on their immediate environment.
Remove all possible tripping hazards in their home. Everything from rugs & loose carpeting to small objects that are used to decorate a room should be removed. They can all be hazardous in the right or wrong situation as the case may be!
You should also look into effective methods of controlling falls. Zimmer frames are extremely effective for those unsteady on their feet and cot sides can be attached to a bed to prevent falls during the night.
If the elderly individual that you look after does experience a fall in the home, then it is of the utmost importance that you know exactly how to deal with the situation.
- First remove all hazards from around the individual to allow you to get closer and assess the damage.
- Then administer first aid if it is appropriate to do so.
- Try not to move the individual until you’re certain that there’s no damage to their joints and limbs.
- If there is or you think that he/she may have sustained a head injury, then you should immediately call an ambulance.
- Keep the senior warm and as comfortable as possible until the paramedics arrive.
Falls represent very real hazards in the home and you should always be prepared to deal with them. You’ll inevitably have to deal with them at some stage, no matter how well prepared you are, but removing the means will reduce the amount of falls and hopefully lower the severity of the injuries.