Falling is no Joke

October 8, 2014

Q: Who cares if Mom and Dad are safe at home?

A: Arise Home Health Care

Falling is no joke. Most of us have seen the commercial, and some have thoughtlessly mimicked the poor elderly woman on the floor next to her bed––“HELP. I’ve FALLEN, and I CAN’T get UP!” The reality? Between 20% and 40% of adults over 65 who live at home fall each year.1 Breaking a shoulder or a hip usually means hospitalization, replacement surgery, a long- or short-term stay at a rehabilitation facility, and the hiring of a homecare aide or nurse, once the injured party has returned home. Of course, falling isn’t the only physical danger an elderly person faces at home––fire on the stovetop, taking too much (or not taking) medication, forgetting to eat, etc. And what about nonphysical dangers––depression, isolation, and victimization from those who prey on the elderly? Families want to keep their loved-one safe at home.

Companions, homemakers, and personal care attendants can assume those tasks that put an elderly person at risk for a fall or other mishap.

Jean* is alert and active at 91. She lives in a senior apartment and gets around with a walker, since balance is an issue. Jean lost her balance and fell against a doorframe in 2010, breaking her shoulder. So, carrying groceries, laundry, the trash, or any activity that involves walking and the use of two hands is an absolute no-no, per her children. Chris, our homecare aide, provides housekeeping and companion services to Jean once a week.

Each week for two to three hours, Chris helps Jean with her “To-Do” list. Usually, she shops for groceries, making certain that she buys the correct personal care brands Jean prefers and that she follows Jean’s dietary needs by reading food labels. Chris is conscientious, and Jean’s satisfied she’s trained Chris well. Chris also does the laundry, including any ironing Jean might need. When the weather’s nice, Chris takes Jean shopping at a department store. She’s also hung Jean’s original artwork and holiday decorations as well as re-arranged the furniture (no heavy lifting, though!).

Jean greatly enjoys Chris’ companionship. She’s entertained by Chris’ conversation and trusts that her own family stories will stay “just between us.” She gets frustrated with her hearing difficulties and is very appreciative of Chris’ patience and understanding. The two are friends.

From our perspective, Chris possesses two strong characteristics, essential to our in-home care business and our culture of compassion: a good heart and empathy for the elderly.

Families are often challenged when it comes to choosing non-medical senior services. How can we keep Mom independent but safe? (See the “Get Up and Go Test” for balance.2) How much assistance do we provide without affecting Dad’s desire for self-sufficiency and independence? This is when a conversation about our continuum of home care comes in handy.

Arise Home Health Care staff will sit down with all concerned to discuss an elderly person’s needs, schedule an assessment, and regroup to create a nurse-supervised care plan. The “fix” may be as simple as engaging companion care from someone who will listen, converse, or read to a loved one. Or it can be a mix of companion care, personal care assistance for daily living, homemaking, medication reminders, and coaching the client through physical or occupational rehab exercises, like those specific to balance. (See the National Institute on Aging’s “Balance Exercises” by following the link below.3)

Jean (and her children) appreciates the non-medical, homemaker services we supply to help her stay on her feet. (Pardon the pun.) But seriously, we know balance and medication issues can lead to falls. “Senior moments” can also come into play. So, by enlisting care in the home for aging parents, families can keep their loved ones from engaging in activities that might put them in harm’s way.

We want to keep folks safe in their homes because Arise cares.

Do you have a question for our professional Arise Home Health Care staff? Ask an expert.

* Not the individual’s real name


1. “Two Questions Can Reveal Mobility Problems in Seniors”
2. Get Up and Go Test: http://www.healthcare.uiowa.edu/igec/tools/mobility/getupandgo.pdf
3. National Institute on Aging, Balance Exercises to Try, https://www.nia.nih.gov/health.