Sometimes, family caregivers will insist on the use of a restraint to avoid falls when concerned about the safety of their loved ones. However, there are negative consequences when utilizing restraints. Families and caregivers need to investigate alternatives.

Family caregivers need to be champions of non-restraint use with their loved ones if they see ‘restraint’ being used. Convenience for nursing staff, or lack of available staff, should never be accepted as a reason/need for restraints. Sometimes a person’s medical condition requires ‘restraint’ to prevent injury. However, this decision should be rare, short term and done with extreme caution. Any frequent or continued use of restraint needs to be questioned. Healthcare facilities are required to continually explore and utilize alternatives to restraint.

Examples of interventions that help to reduce the use of restraint include:

Personal Care:
Assist elders with meeting their daily needs (nutrition, hydration, pain relief, routine toileting, etc.).
• Eliminate unnecessary medications!
• Provide balance and gait training, and and/or physical therapy along with strengthening exercises.

Supportive Safety Equipment:
• Low beds/mat placed on the floor (to avoid injurious falls).
• Bed/chair alarms (used to alert staff that a person has left their bed/chair by themselves when they shouldn’t have).
• Family/sitters (family caregivers watch persons 24/7 when at high fall risk).
• Hip protectors (shock-absorbing pads worn to prevent hip fractures). These also can be purchased as padded undergarments.
• Nonslip floor/supportive footwear.
• Walking aids (canes/walkers to support safe walking/balance).

– 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: ; or online at: