Falling is a prevalent issue for seniors in Indian River County, so much so that preventing falls has become a top priority for the Visiting Nurse Association of the Treasure Coast (VNA). To keep seniors safe at home, the VNA has created the Fall Prevention Program, which includes comprehensive care planning for those who have fallen in the last six months and/or are considered at high risk for falling.
Indian River County Fire-Rescue reportedly has had over 5,000 “fall calls” in the past five years and is seeing a 10-15% increase this year. A “frequent faller” is someone who has fallen repeatedly and has either been admitted to the hospital or has called upon emergency services to aid them in getting back up. For those who suffer an injury from falling, the fall can be costly and sometimes fatal. For the lucky ones who escape injury, repeatedly relying on fire-rescue to lend a hand takes first responders off the road.
“Medical management is the first step in reducing your risk of falling. Health factors that can contribute to falls are being over the age of 65, osteoporosis, taking multiple medications, changes in vision and sensation in the feel and change in balance and walking speed and/or patters, stated Margaret Olsen, DPT, VNA’s Therapy Supervisor. “The VNA will conduct an individualized fall risk assessment and develop a plan of care to prevent future falls so that patients can safely remain in their homes.”
VNA’s Fall Prevention Program aims to decrease hospital admissions and prevent injuries by helping patients first identify risks: taking multiple medications, balance issues, low blood pressure and environmental hazards. The program utilizes both nurses and therapists and encompasses medication management as well as physical and occupational therapy, depending on the underlying cause(s). Often, falling is the byproduct of a recent surgery, medication side effects, chronic illness or home environment.
Environmental hazards are revealed through VNA’s home assessment, completed by a VNA nurse/therapist and suggestions for remediation are provided. If therapy is recommended, occupational therapist support patients by help them regain the skills necessary to safely carry out everyday activities. A physical therapist will create an individualized plan to improve mobility, strength and balance.
In addition to assistance from nurses and therapists, VNA’s Fall Prevention Program offers an abundance of resources. Patients have access to exercise videos, demonstrated by a VNA physical therapist and telehealth monitoring of vital signs. They will also receive a Fall Kit, which includes tools and resources to increase safe and independent living. For those enrolled in the Fall Prevention Program, VNA will include two free months and waive the $50 installation fee for all Philips Lifeline medical alert devices. Even more great news, the Fall Prevention Program is covered by Medicare for those who qualify.
To find out if you qualify for VNA’s Fall Prevention Program or for more information on VNA services, call 772.567.5551 or visit www.vnatc.com.