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Unintentional Death from Bed Falls

Approximately 1.8 million emergency room visits and over 400 thousand hospital admission occur to those over the age of 65 resulted from falling out of bed according to the Center for Disease Control.

As we age, our stability diminishes and getting in and out of bed becomes increasingly difficult. The majority of falls usually occurs when getting out of bed. These falls can result in physical injury such as hip fractures and the development of psychological problems like the fear of falling.

There are many factors that can lead to difficulty when transferring in and out the beds, such as medical conditions, mental impairment, and the taking of medications. In addition, bed height, mattress firmness, type of flooring, footwear, and other equipment can contribute to someone falling.

To avoid the accidental bed falls, there is a need for a plan and review of:

* Medical issues relating to physical and mental capacity

* Exercise and rehabilitation plan to strengthen muscles

* Caregiver roles to make sure there is a watchful eye on the patient

* The room, bed and equipment to be used during any transferring

* Products that reduce injury should a fall occur.

The room environment can contribute to safety:

* The lowering the bed height can reduce any injuries. An adjustable height bed can be lowered for safety and then raised to help get out of bed.

* Adjusting the distance of equipment such as a wheelchair, walker, cane, commode or bathroom. Keeping items close reduces the need to stretch and lose balance.

* Keeping a walker nearby can provide support to the patient when getting out of bed.

Products to very carefully review when developing a fall prevention plan:

* Full length bed rails surprisingly can increase the risk of a fall and injury. Someone might try to climb over the rails or try to go around the rail and over the footboard. In addition, entrapment can occur when the rail and mattress are not fitted properly.

* Wrist straps are considered physical restraints and increase the risk for bed falls. The use of restraints can agitate the person and create a situation that can cause physical harm.

There are many products that when used properly can provide a safe environment:

* Bed Push Up Bar provides the user to position themselves on a bed and allow them to push off.

* Telephone Emergency Device can inform a caregiver that the patient needs help before they attempt to get out of bed.

* Reachers are handy when the patient needs to grab something that is just out of reach, and therefore they do to over extend themselves.

* Partial length bed rails can provide additional support

* Anti-Slip Footwear are socks with anti-slip treads infused on the bottom of the sole.

The following products can reduce injury:

* Cushioned Floor Mats positioned next to the bed can provide cushioning and distribute the forces on the body.

* Hip Protectors are similar to ones worn by football players by protecting the fragile hip.

* Bed Alarms provide an audio alert to let the person know that they might be doing something wrong and in addition inform the caregiver to respond before an accident occurs.

Bed falls are avoidable, and please consult your healthcare professional to develop a plan should you suspect that a loved one is prone to bed falls.

Also see Preventing Falls in the Aging Population

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