Falls are scary. Not only can they cause major injury, but they can also cause older adults to become fearful and even depressed, making it difficult for them to stay active. But did you know that assisted living communities like The Ivy at Watertown can help residents avoid falls and gain their confidence back?
If your loved one avoids certain activities and responsibilities because of a fear of falling, it might be time to consider assisted living, says The Ivy at Watertown Executive Director Jason Rieger.
“One of the top priorities of any assisted living community is fall prevention,” he says. “Especially in the bathroom — the most dangerous room in the house. That’s why The Ivy at Watertown has many features to help prevent falls, not only when bathing and using the toilet but also when getting dressed and walking down the hall to breakfast.”
Here’s a closer look at five senior bathroom safety features at The Ivy at Watertown, from personalized assessments and customized care for elderly fall prevention to services designed to boost residents’ balance, mobility, and overall health and well-being.
1. Fall Assessments
At The Ivy at Watertown, fall prevention starts even before the resident moves into the community, Rieger says. Before move-in day, a registered nurse will conduct a thorough in-person assessment of the resident’s physical and cognitive health. After gauging their fall history and risk and level of mobility, the care team will develop a customized care plan to further help prevent falls.
Then, once the resident is settled in their new home at The Ivy at Watertown, there will be another meeting to assess the safety of the apartment.
“Most of these folks are coming to us after being in their house for 40 to 50 years,” Rieger says. “Now their home has a whole new layout, a different path to the bathroom at night. Without proper oversight, these put them at risk for a fall. So what we try to do is assess that as soon as they’re settled.”
2. Home Modifications and Safety Devices
Slippery floors, low toilet seats, insufficiently secured towel racks, and bathtubs that are difficult to step into and out of are all common factors contributing to the risk of falling in the bathroom. When these external factors are combined with internal factors, such as loss of muscle strength, balance problems, and vision changes, it’s no surprise the bathroom is a hazardous place for older adults.
That’s why The Ivy at Watertown incorporates senior bathroom safety features into every apartment. Non-skid surfaces, built-in grab bars, pull-down shower chairs, and handheld showerheads all help make the bathroom safer for seniors.
Even with these modifications, there is no guarantee that a resident won’t fall in an assisted living community. “So if someone does fall, they can simply push the emergency button on their pendant or wristlet to alert staff, and somebody would attend to them immediately,” Rieger says. “Then we can also get them into services for physical therapy or rehab — whatever they need to get them back on their feet.”
3. Care Partners
One of the biggest safety features at The Ivy at Watertown is the staff.
“When you live in an assisted living community, the staff become so familiar with our residents that they notice changes right away,” Rieger says. “Our care partners are going to notice if your dad has a change in his gait or if your mom’s cane is getting shaky and she needs to graduate to a walker or if your husband’s walker is not at the right height. To have the eyes of so many professionals on you can be amazingly helpful with preventing something bad from happening.”
In addition, staff and care partners are on hand to assist with toileting, bathing, putting on clothes, grooming, and more. Seniors who experience episodes of dizziness when getting up too quickly benefit from someone nearby when bathing. This caregiver support empowers residents to get around and take care of themselves while also lowering their risk of falls.
4. Medication Management
Falls are not always a reflection of an isolated event or lack of supervision. Some medications — or the combination of medicines — can increase the risk of falling.
“For example, some medications when mixed together can affect blood pressure,” Rieger says. “So someone who normally does not have a blood pressure problem stands up too quickly, gets dizzy, and falls.”
Care partners at The Ivy at Watertown work with residents and their physicians to identify medications that might be increasing fall risk and try to reduce or eliminate the use of such medications.
5. Health and Wellness Programs
Many seniors become less active as they’ve gotten older. But failure to engage in even mild exercise on a regular basis results in reduced muscle strength, decreased bone mass, loss of balance and coordination, and reduced flexibility — all making it easier to fall.
“The Ivy at Watertown has many wellness programs in place to maintain strength and muscle endurance and balance to prevent falls,” Rieger says. Yoga, tai chi, TheraBand exercises, and sit-er-cise classes are all are designed with fall prevention in mind.
Although there is no guarantee that a resident won’t fall at The Ivy at Watertown, there are so many preventative measures in place, from medication management and exercise programs to personal care assistance and mobility devices.
If your loved one needs more help in the bathroom than you’re able to provide at home, it might be a sign that it’s time to start exploring your assisted living options. Request more information from The Ivy team or schedule a tour today!