Guide to Fall Prevention Products

Fall Prevention Guide to Products
The products represented in this catalog have significantly helped in reducing the incidence of fall related injuries in the elderly, visually impaired, Alzheimer's, dementia, or convalescent patients both residing in a medical facility or at home. To help you choose the correct product or system we offer this brief explanation of the types of products available.

Monitors / Sensor Pads -
The electronic pressure pad with monitor is the most versatile type and works well in bed, chair, or toilet. The pads electronically detect the absence of pressure, which in turn sends an electronic signal to the monitor setting off an alarm. The pressure pads can be under or on top of the mattress. They are very thin (do not disturb sleeping) and are plugged into the monitor via a telephone type line. Consequently, the monitor must be very close to the person being monitored. The manufacturers also make chair and toilet pads that can be used with the same monitor. To make them mobile, the monitors (brain) are usually run by batteries, but some are also AC adaptable. Some models can have multiple sounding alarms, volume control, or recordable voice message. There are also higher end models that will transmit an alarm signal to a pager or remote location by radio frequency - referred to as wireless. This is a convenient function when you don't want to disturb someone else in the room or adjacent rooms to the person being monitored.
In general, the pressure pads require a person be at least 60 lbs or more, are impervious to liquids and have a warranty of one year. There are also pad/monitors that detect and sound an alarm if a person steps on the pad (detects pressure). This type of pad can be used beside the bed, in a hallway or in front of a chair while the person is seated.

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Infrared / Optical-

This type of monitor requires no pads or tethers but utilizes an invisible infrared beam. This is a well know technology used in security systems and poses no harm to humans or animals. The monitor is placed by the side of the bed and turned on so the beam is parallel to the bedside. If a person tries to leave the bed they will set off an alarm. Generally we recommend that the monitor be placed 6"-8" away from the side of the bed just below the mattress. The beam should be directed into a wall if the headboard is against the wall. Anyone or any pet getting in the beam will set off the alarm.

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Tethered -

This is the simplest and usually the least expensive. It consists of a monitor/alarm plus a string or tether that clips to your patient or loved one's clothing. When this person gets to the end of the adjustable length tether, it breaks a contact (usually magnetic) setting off the alarm. The alarms are usually battery operated for mobility. The manufactures recommend this type for bed or chair but we usually only recommend the tether type for chairs because of false alarms caused by getting the tether tangled up in bed clothing.

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Wandering Products -

In addition to fall prevention there are excellent anti-wandering products. These devices alert the caregiver that their patient or loved one is wandering. There are infrared door monitors, pressure sensitive pads to place in thresholds or exits, and door or window monitors/alarms that detect if a door or window is being opened. There are simple, inexpensive mesh and Velcro doorway barriers that will physically stop Alzheimer patients.

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Fall Mats - Fall mats are used extensively in areas where a person could be injured from a fall on a hard floor such as the side of a bed, by a toilet or in front of a chair. They are cushioned floor mats of various sizes 1" or 2" thick with beveled edges. They can be very useful when transferring a person from a wheelchair or for those patients that slip off the bed.

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Fall Prevention Facts

Did you know?

  • More than one-third of the U.S. population 65 years or older falls each year
  • Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury, deaths, and the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions
  • In 2001, more than 1.6 million seniors were treated in emergency rooms for fall related injuries and 388,000 were hospitalized.
  • In 2001, more than 11,600 people age 65 and older died from fall related injuries. 60% of those people who die from falls are 75 and older.
  • Among people ages 75 years and older, those who fall are 4 to 5 times more likely to be admitted to a nursing home for a year or longer.
  • Based upon CDC research, 360,000 to 480,000 older adults received fall related fractures. That's 3% to 5% per year.
  • In 1991 Medicare costs for hip fractures were estimated to be $2.9 billion
  • Women sustain about 80% of all hip fractures
  • People ages 85 and older are 10 to 15 times more likely to sustain hip fractures than people 60 to 65.

Factors that cause falls and injuries

  • Lack of physical activity - Failure to exercise regularly results in poor muscle tone, decreased bone mass, loss of balance, and reduced flexibility.
  • Impaired vision - age-related vision disease.
  • Medications - Sedatives, anti-depressants, and anti-psychotic drugs, plus taking multiple medications are all implicated in increasing risk of falling.
  • Environmental hazards - 1/3 of all falls in the elderly population involve hazards at home.
  • Prevention - bed alarms, chair alarms, shower chairs/benches, transfer benches for tubs, grab rails in showers, tubes, hallways, use of reachers, use of non-skid mats, handheld shower heads in tub and shower.

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Reference links

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/falls.htm

Colorado State University www.ext.colostate.edu//PUBS/CONSUMER/10242.html