A restraint for an elder is anything (including devices, drugs or people) that gets in the way of an elder’s movement or restricts their freedom.

Some common examples of “restraint practices” include:

• Seat belts and lap cushions are used in wheelchairs to protect someone from falling out of the chair or from getting up without assistance. Devices that the person can’t remove are considered a restraint and pose a danger. If the person tries to get out of the chair, they may fall forward with the wheelchair still attached. Many times the wheelchair is equipped with an alarm to notify staff.

• Recliner chairs provide persons with comfort and good sitting posture. But the chair is also a restraint for those unable to get out of the chair by themselves. Sometimes the chair is so deep, it can be extremely difficult to get out of.

• Beds can be equipped with side rails. Whether a hospital bed, or with side rails purchased for home. The safety objective is to prevent a person from rolling or falling out of his bed. However, the side rails are used to keep someone from getting out of the bed, thus making the side rail a restraint. This can be very dangerous. People can become entrapped, confused, frustrated with side rails. They may injure themselves while trying to climb over top of the rails.

• Tucking in bed sheets too tightly (or using Velcro hook/loop fasteners) so that the person can’t get out of bed by themselves or move about freely…this is a restraint.

– 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