One out of every three adults age 65 and older falls each year, though falls aren’t a natural stage of the aging process. That’s why it’s important for Skilled Nursing Facilities to have a comprehensive fall prevention plan in place, with assistance from both physical and occupational rehab services.
An increased risk of falling can result from personal, environmental, and activity-based factors. Personal factors may include behaviors, diminished balance and mobility, and a fear of falling, while environmental factors exist outside of the person’s capabilities. These factors include hazards in the home, poor shoe stability, and the availability and use of mobility devices such as walkers and canes.
Therapy providers can assist with fall prevention through both physical and occupational therapy. Read on for a look at the role both play.
Reducing the Risk of Falling in Seniors Through Occupational Therapy Services
Studies have found that occupational therapy services are highly beneficial for seniors within the SNF population. Because this type of therapy looks at how residents function in their normal environment, it can allow seniors to anticipate and help reduce fall risks.
Occupational therapists can assess a resident’s risk of falling and provide the training and support necessary to help him or her prevent falls in the future. This may include guidance on how to alter daily routines to reduce fall risk, as well as tips on how to remove fall hazards in the home once discharged.
Because occupational therapy is individualized, therapy providers can help uncover a resident’s specific risk factors and deficits and determine a plan to overcome them.
Reducing the Risk of Falling in Seniors Through Physical Therapy Services
Physical therapy also plays a key role in fall prevention. Many seniors experience an increased fall risk due to diminished balance and mobility.
After determining a resident’s specific deficits and needs, therapy providers can design exercise and training programs to improve both strength and balance. Some of these exercises include:
Moving and Walking
Activities such as performing dance steps, walking in circles, and navigating an obstacle course can all help improve a resident’s mobility.
Doing Multiple Things at One Time
Some seniors have difficulty performing certain combinations of activities, such as walking and talking, at the same time. Physical therapy providers can create activities for residents that challenge them to maintain walking speed while doing other tasks, such as counting backward, having a conversation, or carrying an object.
Strength training, done with either weights or body weight, is also important. Exercises can be designed to focus on a single muscle group, such as the legs, core, and back, to maintain healthy posture.
Both physical and occupational therapy providers can help educate residents about their risk of falling. This includes educating them about safe physical activities that can help improve their overall quality of life.
In addition to providing educational resources and training to residents, therapy providers can also help family members and other caregivers who will assist the resident in the home environment with materials and guidance to help them limit falls.
At Apex Rehab Solutions, we work hard to ensure the highest quality of resident care—and we’re here to support your SNF’s team every step of the way. Get started today by calling (412) 963-9698.