Falls in the Elderly

Nearly 2 weeks ago, Dad took a spill getting out of the car one evening. At the time, the only thing he appeared to have injured was his pride. By Tuesday of this week, however, a bruise the size of a small pancake had appeared on his hip. I took him to Urgent Care, and happily, the X-ray was negative for a break.

But the bruise kept growing. By yesterday morning, the bruise had grown to the size of a football, leading me to wonder if this was old blood continuing to make its’ way to the surface, or a seeping vein that refused to seal off due to the use of NSAIDs. Dad was understandably in pain and had been having mobility difficulty, necessitating help nearly every night this week. So, I threw on a t shirt and skirt, and drove Dad to the ER for evaluation.

The ER doc said the bruise was impressive, but of course, not the largest he had ever seen. He felt it was old blood continuing to come to the surface, and said the bruise might grow a bit larger before it resolved itself. We were in and out of the ER in just over an hour, which might be a record.

Before we left the ER, I got some good tips from an RN on how to help Dad transfer better to prevent falls. As a med tech, I have a strong background in medicine, but not much clinical training. The nurse said she thought I would have made a good nurse, which is a huge compliment because lab techs are generally not very high on the clinical totem pole. But, I pointed out to her that I was learning to solve problems on the fly instead of being trained and experienced. I told her that if there was a manual, I would read it, or if there was a class available, I would take it.

This brings me to the point that fall prevention in the elderly is desirable, but caregivers also need to know what to do when a person ends up on the ground. Searching the web, I found some free resources that seemed promising.

First, is a fall statistics and prevention for healthcare professionals on the CDC’s website. Interesting to me in this set of webpages is a guide on how to develop a community program to prevent falls. However, the guide mostly focuses on fall prevention inside the home, which is most of what I have seen elsewhere:

http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/Index.html

Here is a training article about teaching an elderly person how to get up after a fall, assuming they are ambulatory and not injured. This seems like a good class for a PT clinic to teach to the elderly and caregivers:

http://physical-therapy.advanceweb.com/Article/Teaching-Fall-Recovery-Skills-to-the-Elderly.aspx

I hit pay dirt when I found an entire set of training videos for the elderly and caregivers on

http://www.youtube.com/user/CAREGIVERSTRAINING

Finally, the NY Times wrote up a nice article on predicting the possibility of recovery after a fall. This article helps both elderly patients and their families know what kind of recovery to realistically expect after a fall, and what to ask a physician about the patient’s prognosis.

http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/15/predicting-a-falls-aftermath/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Additionally, if your locality has a caregiver support program, a caregiver counselor may be able to line up training classes for you. The Washington state DSHS website has this info:

http://www.altsa.dshs.wa.gov/caregiving/training.htm

Advance training for caregiver duties may be desirable, but isn’t always possible with a sudden increase in responsibilities and a hectic schedule. However, it is nice to know that there are many resources available on the Internet and locally.

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2 thoughts on “Falls in the Elderly

  1. I was finally able to read this. Good work – all too many people need this. A caregiver’s job is wholly necessary in our society, but thoroughly exhausting.

    Like

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