10 Ways Seniors Can Protect Themselves from Fall Injuries

10 Ways Seniors Can Protect Themselves from Fall Injuries

Nearly everyone will experience a slip-and-fall accident at some point in their life. Assuming it’s a same-level fall – not a fall from an elevated surface – most healthy young adults won’t sustain serious injuries from falls. Seniors, however, are more vulnerable to fall-related injuries. According to Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), falls are the most common form of injury across Canada: every day last year, falls resulted in almost 1,800 reported emergency department visits and 417 hospital admissions. In fact, more seniors die from falls than any other type of physical injury. However, there are ways for seniors to protect themselves from fall injuries.


Wear Non-Slip Shoes


Older adults should wear non-slip shoes to reduce their risk for falls. These shoes are designed with special soles that create stronger traction with the floor to protect against slip-and-fall accidents. Typically made of hard rubber rather than leather, the soles of non-slip shoes have a crisscrossing pattern to protect against slip-and-fall accidents. Even when walking on a smooth, flat surface, it’s almost impossible to slip and fall while wearing a pair of high-quality non-slip shoes.


Illuminate the Home


Insufficient lighting is a contributing factor to fall injuries among seniors. Seniors suffering from age-related vision loss may struggle to see inside their home without proper lighting. A few basic overhead fixtures can provide some illumination, but it’s not enough to provide full visual clarity. Therefore, seniors should install high-lumen lighting throughout their home, including the entryways, bedrooms, hallways, bathrooms, kitchen, stairs and garage. High-lumen lighting is designed to provide more visual light than low-lumen lighting, allowing seniors to see better inside their home.


Eliminate Tripping Hazards


Statistics show that about one-third of all fall injuries among older adults caused by environmental hazards, specifically tripping hazards. If a senior unknowingly steps on an object on the floor, he or she may trip and fall. By eliminating tripping hazards from their home, seniors can reduce their risk for falls.

Common tripping hazards in a home

Use a Shower Bench


Seniors experience more slips and falls while bathing or showering than performing any other activity. When the water is running, it creates a slippery surface on the bottom of the tub or shower greatly increasing the risk for fall injuries. Stepping into or out of the tub or shower – or taking a few steps to grab a bottle of shampoo – can cause a senior to slip and fall. To protect against falls in a tub or a shower, seniors should use a shower bench. Also known as a transfer bench, the shower bench is a mobility device that features a seat with grab bars on the side. Once placed inside the shower, seniors can bathe themselves while comfortably seated rather than standing or lying down, virtually eliminating the risk for falls.


Install a Raised Toilet Seat


In addition to a shower bench, seniors can also install a raised toilet seat to reduce their risk for falls. According to Canadian Institute for Health Information, 14 percent of fall injuries among seniors involve the toilet. While that injury rate is less than that of showering and bathing, it still attests to the dangers of using the toilet as a senior. The problem with most toilet bowls is that they are positioned at a very low level. With an average toilet bowl height of just 38 centimeters, seniors often struggle to safely get on and off the toilet. There are elevated toilet seats, however, which extend the sitting height of a toilet bowl by 5 to 12 centimeters. Some are designed to clip onto a toilet’s existing seat, whereas others are designed to replace the seat. Regardless, all elevated seats help seniors get on and off the toilet without falling.


Use Caution When Taking Medication


Certain types of medication can increase the risk for falls. A study published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that seniors who took a prescription blood pressure medication were up to 40 percent more likely to sustain a serious injury from falling than their counterparts who didn’t take any prescription blood pressure medication. Researchers believe that medications used to treat high blood pressure cause dizziness and fainting when a person initially stands up. Therefore, seniors who take these medications may lose their balance when standing from sitting position. Of course, dozens of other medications can cause drowsiness, including antihistamines, sleep aides, anxiety drugs and muscle relaxants.


Install Non-Slip Flooring


The right type of flooring can reduce the risk for fall injuries among seniors. Although it’s attractive, hardwood flooring isn’t recommended for seniors because of its flat, smooth surface. Even when it’s dry, a senior can easily slip and fall while walking on the hardwood. Instead of hardwood, seniors should consider installing heavy-duty carpet. Carpet flooring isn’t just soft and comfortable; it’s safe for seniors. The rugged texture of carpet allows for stronger traction when walking or standing. Alternatively, there’s non-slip vinyl flooring that’s designed with a textured surface to reduce the risk of slip-and-fall accidents.


Use Handrails When Going Up and Down Stairs


A senior who lives in a home with stairs should always use the handrails while going up and down. The handrails should be securely anchored to the wall and have the ability to support the senior’s weight if he or she is forced to grab them to prevent a fall. Falling from any height can cause injury, but falling from a flight of stairs is a more troubling scenario that often results in a serious injury. Thankfully, handrails can help seniors safely use the stairs in their home.


Avoid Wearing Loose-Fitted Clothing


A little-known risk factor for fall injuries among seniors is wearing loose-fitted clothing. A long bathrobe, for example, may feature excess fabric that drags on the ground and creates a tripping hazard. Long gowns and trousers pose a similar tripping hazard. To reduce the risk for trip-and-fall accidents, seniors should wear form-fitting clothes that don’t drag on the ground.


Stay Physically Active


Physically active seniors are less likely to suffer from fall injuries than their less-active counterparts. By going for a walk, performing aerobics and engaging in other physical activities, seniors can strengthen their muscles and bones. As a result, seniors can control their bodies more effectively to prevent falls. And, if physically active seniors experience falls, they are less likely to sustain serious injuries because of their stronger muscles and bones.


The risk of falling shouldn’t prevent seniors from moving around and enjoying their life. Anyone can fall at any time in their life. Following the above mentioned tips, however, can protect seniors from fall injuries.

If your loved one needs Senior Home Care in Richmond Hill, our health care professionals can help.

How to Survive Life as a Nursing Agency Worker

How to Survive Life as a Nursing Agency Worker

Many new graduates and workers who are being laid off in today’s economic climate will turn to temporary nursing agency employment while looking for a permanent position which will ultimately satisfy them in their career progression. And, even those workers who haven’t lost their jobs but are discovering that now is not the best time to look for that dream position are biding their time with temporary employment. So, how does working as a nursing agency employee differ from working as a permanent employee?


You may have read about the pros and cons of temporary assignments, but received scant advice on how to survive life in the world of temporary work. What follows will ensure that you get to pick and choose which positions you accept, and when you accept them.

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Be Prepared – and Not Too Rigid


Most temporary nursing agency assignments involve a very steep learning curve. While it’s important to remember all you’ve learned to date in your working life (that is, after all, how you’ve secured the assignment in the first place), remember that organizations have their own procedures and processes and these may differ greatly from those that you’ve worked with to date.


The most valued attribute of nursing agency workers is their ability to quickly adapt to and learn new processes. This is most easily done when they remain open-minded and willing to learn. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t advise your supervisor if you see how a process or procedure can be improved upon. Any manager worth his or her salt will want to know how a process can be improved, especially if it results in cutting costs and/or time.


What is the Right Way to Talk About Changes?


However, there’s a right and a wrong way to go about suggesting improvements. When researching the subject, acknowledge that the current working practice is good (you could after all be talking about something very close to your supervisor’s heart), but you believe that there is a way to make it better. For example, your suggestion shouldn’t be met with too much hostility if you phrase it this way: “This shift report works well in capturing information for the shift significant events, but with an additional column for X, Y or Z data it would also be useful for the falls prevention program.”


Keep an Open Mind


While all managers will welcome suggestions on improving procedures, don’t be blinkered and steadfastly hold on to the view that the way you used to work was the best and only way. If you were in your previous position for a considerable number of years, you could easily fall into the trap of believing that the procedures you once used were difficult, if not impossible, to improve upon, and, as a result, you may be heard proclaiming to all that, “That’s not how I did it where I used to work.” Keep an open mind: not only are you learning all you need to know for your current temporary job, but you could also be learning tips that could serve you well in any future assignment.


Be Flexible


As well as being able to adapt and learn, a good temporary worker should also be flexible. Don’t see your workload as a specific set of tasks. While you will probably be reporting to a single nurse/supervisor in the workplace, be prepared to help out in all areas as and when the need arises. Your charge nurse could well be called away unexpectedly and you will then have to take instruction from an interim person in charge.


Be Proactive


Assess the pace of the workplace and offer your services when you have quite times. Your attitude will be reported to the nursing agency and will definitely merit you a gold star, which will undoubtedly result in your inclusion in the selection process when future assignments come in. It is really important if you want to continue working for the nursing agency. You will not only have an opportunity to learn, but might also be considered for the position on a permanent basis.


Be Discreet


Stay away from facility’s politics. This is a good advice whether you’re a temporary or a permanent employee. Sometimes, when facility “battle lines” are drawn, employees try to recruit whomever they can to their side, so don’t be a “casualty” of the facility “battlefield.” You don’t want your nursing agency to receive any reports of uncooperative behavior on your part. It is important that your nursing agency is confident that it can send you on assignments regardless of the personalities involved. You might not be offered assignments if your agency has to first take into consideration the people you will be working with in order to prevent any workplace confrontations occurring.


Remain Professional and Call for Help


Remember that you are employed by the nursing agency and any concerns about your employment should be raised with your agency contact in the first place. If you feel that you can’t complete the assignment, for whatever reasons, stay professional and report to your agency contact advising him or her of the situation. Your contact will arrange for another candidate to take over the assignment. Your agency contact will also deal directly with the supervisor of the facility for which you’ve been working, fully explaining the situation. Likewise, if you feel that you’re being asked to perform tasks that weren’t included in the job description you agreed with upon accepting the assignment, let your contact at the agency know.


Be Punctual


One of the disadvantages of working for a nursing agency is that you may feel you can’t get away with bending some of the “rules” in the same way that permanent workers seem to. For example, you may be at the nursing station 5 minutes before your official start time, while the permanent worker working the same shift rolls in 15 minutes later. Regardless of what your thoughts are on this, focus on keeping the hours you are assigned to work in respect of both your start and finish times.


Discuss any overtime with your supervisor before undertaking it: he or she won’t be too pleased to be presented with your hours of work at the end of the week if it shows additional 2 hours of work that you claim you had to carry out to complete the shift. All overtime should be agreed to before it’s carried out and claimed in accordance with regulations of your employment contract.


Be Conscientious


Don’t adopt the attitude that just because you’re working on a temporary basis you don’t have to give your best on the job. Don’t believe that you have no vested interest in the position: the job you do has consequences, whether in respect to feedback that is submitted to your agency after you complete the assignment, or the work you’re engaged in during it.


Keep in Touch


Keep in regular contact with your nursing agency, especially when you’re on-call and ready to work. Let the agency know when you’re available for work. Call every Monday and advise of your availability for that week.


One of the best ways to survive life as a nursing agency worker is to strive to be an exceptional team member, contribute where and when you feel it’s appropriate, and always try to do the best job you can. In order to survive, and even thrive, in the world of temporary work, treat any assignment in the same way you would a permanent position. Even if it is an assignment in which you end up doing more than your fair share of bedside care!

If you are looking for a Nursing Agency in Vaughan, our health care professionals can help.