Preventing Falls and Fractures in Long-Term Care: What Should You Know?

by Ontario Osteoporosis Strategy

Understanding the Importance of Fall and Fracture Prevention

Falls among older adults living in long-term care homes can have serious consequences, including injuries and reduced quality of life. Understanding the importance of fall prevention is crucial in ensuring the well-being and safety of these individuals. By implementing effective fall prevention awareness programs, homes can reduce the risk of falls and subsequent injury for older adults.

One key aspect of fall prevention is recognizing the impact falls can have on older adults. Falls can lead to broken bones (fractures), head injuries, and other serious health issues, which can significantly impact their independence and mobility. For many long-term care residents, broken bones, such as a hip fracture, results in their not being able to take care of themselves, not being able to walk independently, not being able to move in bed or to easily get in and out of bed or chairs on their own. Fractures can result in strong pain, leading residents to withdraw from social activities and avoid activity because they are afraid of falling or having another fracture. Additionally, falls can also result in increased healthcare costs and extended hospital stays. By prioritizing fall and fracture prevention, we can help older adults maintain their independence and reduce the burden on healthcare systems.

Another important factor to consider is that falls are not a normal part of aging. Many older adults assume that falling is inevitable as they get older, but this is a misconception. By understanding the importance of fall prevention, we can challenge this belief and take proactive steps to prevent falls.

Overall, understanding the importance of fall prevention is essential for promoting the well-being and safety of older adults living in long-term care homes. By implementing comprehensive fall and fracture prevention programs, we can reduce the risk of falls and improve the overall quality of life for these individuals.

Identifying Risk Factors for Falls

By understanding these risk factors, we can tailor interventions to address the specific needs of each individual and reduce the likelihood of falls. Some common risk factors for falls among older adults include muscle weakness, balance problems, vision impairments, medication side effects, and environmental hazards. By conducting comprehensive assessments, healthcare professionals can identify these risk factors and develop personalized fall prevention plans for each resident.

It is also important to consider the individual's medical history, chronic conditions, and previous fall incidents when identifying risk factors. By taking a holistic approach, we can address the underlying causes of falls and implement targeted interventions to minimize the risk.

Identifying risk factors for falls is not only essential for preventing falls but also for promoting overall health and well-being among older adults. By addressing these risk factors, we can improve their quality of life and reduce the likelihood of future falls.

Implementing Safety Measures in Long-Term Care Homes

Implementing safety measures in long-term care homes is crucial for preventing falls among older adults. By creating a safe environment, we can minimize the risk of accidents and ensure the well-being of residents.

Some key safety measures include ensuring proper lighting, removing tripping hazards (such as loose rugs and clutter), installing grab bars and handrails in bathrooms and hallways, and using non-slip mats. Regular maintenance and inspection of the facility can also help identify and address potential hazards.

Furthermore, staff training on fall prevention protocols is essential to ensure consistent implementation of safety measures. Staff should be educated on recognizing and addressing environmental hazards, assisting residents with mobility, and promoting safe practices.

By implementing these safety measures, we can create a supportive environment that reduces the risk of falls and promotes the overall well-being of older adults in long-term care homes.

Improving Physical Activity and Movement

Regular exercise can enhance strength, balance, and coordination, reducing the risk of falls and improving overall mobility. It is important to design exercise programs that are tailored to the individual's abilities and preferences. This may include activities such as walking, chair exercises, tai chi, and resistance training. By incorporating a variety of exercises, we can target different muscle groups and improve overall physical fitness.

In addition to structured exercise programs, encouraging residents to remain active throughout the day is also important. This can include activities such as walking during leisure time, participating in recreational activities, and engaging in hobbies that promote movement.

By promoting physical activity and movement, we can enhance older adults' overall health and well-being, reducing the risk of falls and improving their quality of life.

Promoting Awareness of Fall and Fracture Prevention among Staff and Residents

By educating both staff and residents, we can create a culture of safety and reduce the risk of falls and fractures. Staff training should include education on fall and fracture prevention strategies, recognizing risk factors, and implementing safety measures. It is important to provide ongoing training and updates to ensure that staff members are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to prevent falls and fractures.

Residents should also be educated on fall prevention and encouraged to actively participate in their own safety. This can include providing information on fall prevention strategies, promoting the use of assistive devices (such as walkers or canes), and encouraging family members and caregivers to communicate any concerns or changes in their mobility to staff.

By promoting awareness and active involvement in fall and fracture prevention, we can create a collaborative and proactive approach towards maintaining a safe environment for older adults in long-term care homes.

For more information about fracture prevention and bone health visit the Geras Centre for Aging Research website: or Osteoporosis Canada:

If you have questions about osteoporosis, or want to know your Fracture Risk Scale score to learn if you are at risk for breaking bones, please talk to your doctor, nurse, or other members of your health team.

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