When an elder falls, it can result in significant physical problems, including broken bones, and surgery. Rehabilitation and recovery can be lengthy and slow. Unfortunately, falls in hospitals and nursing homes are an everyday occurrence. In many instances, elders (especially if they are confused or have memory problems) have a tendency to forget they’re not able to walk or get out of bed by themselves and, as a result, fall while trying to do so. In years past, the use of physical restraints (straight jackets, belts, vests, etc.) were utilized to protect elders from falling and injuring themselves.

Since then, awareness has grown about the negative effects restraints produce:

• Bruising of the skin
• Breathing difficulties
• Loss of muscle strength and balance
• Increased agitation, depression, anxiety, fear, and helplessness
• Injuries (including strangulation) resulting from the person trying to escape from the restraint.

But the biggest negative is…restraints don’t prevent falls! In reality, they are frequently ineffective in protecting elders.

Thankfully, due to federal law and regulations, the days of straight jackets and vests are a thing of the past. However, the practice of ‘restraining’ elders to prevent falling is still all too common in many of our healthcare institutions.

– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com