Fall Prevention in Dementia Care: The Integration of an Evidence-Based Fall Scale to Identify Fall Risk and Reduce Fall Events
Falls are prevalent among those aged 65 years and older and may result in minor to debilitating injuries in this vulnerable population. Frailty, unsteady gait, and medication side effects all contribute to fall risk as well as dementia, a type of cognitive impairment that disrupts memory and judgment leading to an underestimation of fall risk. Fall prevention evidence suggests that interventions aimed at decreasing fall rates begin with a fall risk assessment and tailored fall prevention measures that promote safety.
To examine the effectiveness of a fall prevention program in dementia care, an evidence-based pilot was conducted in a long-term care facility focused on dementia care. A convenience sample of 16 nurses received a fall prevention education intervention. A fall prevention knowledge instrument measured pre and post-fall prevention knowledge. There was a significant increase in fall risk knowledge from the pre-test (p < .001). The participants then conducted a fall risk assessment of 50 dementia patients using the Morse Fall Scale.
Of the 50 dementia patients, 28 were identified as high risk for falls. The nurses then instituted tailored fall risk prevention measures for those high risk for falls. As a result of the pilot, 40 fall events were noted within a three-month time period, reflecting a significant reduction in falls (p < .001) from the previous year. The institution of a fall prevention program in dementia care incorporating nursing education, a fall risk scale, and measures to promote safety can reduce fall risk in dementia patients.