What can I do for my father who keeps falling, even while under 24-hour care?

Asked by

My 89-year-old dad keeps falling out of bed when he tries to get up to go to the bathroom himself at a skilled nursing facility. The staff have put a bed alarm on him and do all they can to keep him safe, but he keeps falliing. He plans to move to a lower level of care in two weeks, but I don't think its possible because of the constant falls.

Answers 1 to 10 of 52
Well, the higher level of care isn't stopping the falls, is it? So I'm not sure it makes sense to stay at that level just for that issue.

Is there padding on the floor, and no nearby nightstand or furniture he can hit? Is there a good night light so he can see to get out of bed?

Is his doctor aware of this problem? Did this start recently? Does your father have other sleep problems? For example, does he trash around, kick, or flail his arms?
Well...I'm just worried that if he moves into assisted living...there will be no one there to help him up if he falls. I planned to get him an alert device, but he is getting dementia and I am worried that he wouldn't think to ask for help. The padding is great, but he actually tripped on a mat before and fell..so it was more trouble than help.

I don't know how long this has been going on for sure. We discovered he was not taking care of himself and needed a high level of care several months ago and ever since he's lived near me he's fallen numerous times. I can't have him live with me because he has multiple health issues I can't competently deal with. In addition, I work and am raising a child, so that would be too hard.But, he's my dad and I want him safe...and I need peace of mind.
My mom falls a lot too. We are getting a bed that sits just a couple of inches from the floor so the fall is not so far. It will also prevent her from getting up so much cause it will be hard to get up from a bed that low. Right now I have a soft restraint across her at night to prevent nite time wandering. During the day I have a sort of seat belt for the sofa to keep her from getting up every 5 min and falling. She has done a lot of damage to herself with all the falls. I'm trying my best to protect her. The alarms wouldn't work for us cause by the time I heard the alarm and got to her she would already be on the floor. Hope you get some help with this. I know it worries you.
Jaccare..... If you Dad can afford assisted living, I am guessing he could afford to live elsewhere and pay someone to stay with him that will actually help him get up every time he gets out of bed. He's not going to get that kind of personal attention in a nursing facility and definitely not in assisted living. Good luck to you!
Cushioned mats and padded rugs are good, but you have to run tape around the edges so that they are flush with the floor.
Annt has a good idea about soft restraints until someone can get to him.
He should not be having that many falls at a skilled facility. He can't be the only elder who has these issues. Speak with the director and ask what technology is available to reduce fall risk.
The only way to ensure that he never falls is to have a live-in caregiver, if you can find them. (I would suggest hiring 2 or three who can work in "shifts.") For what you are paying at his facility, he may be able to afford this option and it would be worth it for your peace of mind.
Good luck
Top Answer
I know that this is a very simple answer to your question, but have the nurses at your Dad's facility just tried placing 2 urinals next to his bed withing easy reach for him? My husband is a stroke victim and is unable to get up at night by himself. I was getting up several times a night to take him to the bathroom, but had to come up with an alternate solution as I was exhausted during the day as was my husband. He is now able to use the urinals and go back to sleep. Sometimes we overthink a problem when the simple way turns out to be the best. God bless you and your Dad.
Has a physician checked all his meds; esp. if he is on multiple meds for multiple health concerns and is seeing several doctors. Is he actually taking his meds as scheduled (sometimes they don't get swallowed!). He could be dehydrated, need his ears checked, or any number of fairly-easy-to-address conditions.

It sounds like he gets dizzy or unstable when getting up from a chair or
bed. If he could remember to sit up for a few minutes before standing that might
help (IF he can remember to do so). Is he having to navigate around objects in his room? What kind of shoes is he wearing when he falls?

If he could not remember to use a urinal, perhaps a bedside commode chair would get his attention & keep him from trying to reach the bathroom.

For poorly lit or dark areas, there are nightlights that go on when motion is detected. We have them all around the room & in the hallway where our family member walks. (They work both day night.)

There are even special pads that can be put on people who are prone to falls.
The nursing home or a physical therapist should know about them or look at a website that specializes in products for elderly patients.
I'm lacking in experience with NH facilities however I am curious and suspicious by nature when I hear questions like yours. I realize that it is more common than not for our Elders with Dementia to frequently fall but how do you know he is having these falls? Are you there when it's happened? Does it happen at the same time every time? (like at night) If you see a pattern developing like this I would get a nanny cam so you can see what is exactly happening. No one should know about the camera but you. The suggestion for a couple of urinals or a bed side potty is a good one as well. Either that or some kind of restraints to keep him from hurting himself. I hope you can find a solution. Keep us posted and don't forget to take time to take care of yourself too.
Nobody has asked you yet if you have "good" information about the reasons why he falls a lot or for that matter, why Annt's mom falls a lot.
Sometimes inner ear problems make a person dizzy, other health issues might make falling more likely. But many times it is because the person falling has little balance because of inactivity. I suggest you look into the value of a Mini Trampoline. They come with a bar one can hold on to, but often, when a person is weak, even paraplegics can benefit when placed on the trampoline, sitting on it, while another person bounces up and down. What happens is that the whole lymphatic system gets activated and muscles, too. I have seen elderly people go from only being able to sit while a family member gently bounced up and down, to being able to stand on the trampoline and jump up and down. Notice - I wrote bounce - initially it is bouncing - feet not leaving the mat. Jumping is feet leaving the mat and there are variations from very gentle to major jumping.
One of the things with this exercise is that you only do it gently as if sitting on a chair. You do not exhaust yourself. But over time you can do more and more but still only do it as if sitting in a chair, never exhausted. You build up to more over time.

Using the mini-trampoline really is the best thing for old folks, young ones too.
Maybe you like to search on the internet for "lymphasizer" and lymphatic system because you might discover why and how to regain health.
I forgot to mention that a mini trampoline is often also known a Rebounder.
You can find them for about $70 with the stabilizing bar. Used ones might6 be even less.
You might see some a lot more expensive, but the low end ones do the same job no matter what they tell you about being easier on the body, etc. I have used high and low end ones and they all seem the same to me.

Jaccare, since your dad is in a care facility, ask them to add a trampoline and offer their residents to sit on them and enjoy the benefits. But ask about it after you fortified yourself with information and can make your point. They just might find their residents improve mentally and physically. If they do it regularly - I guarantee it.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support