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The Truth Behind Falls: Five Unknown Dangers Affecting Seniors' Stability

CHICAGO, Aug. 19, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Every day across the country, senior citizens endure life-threatening falls. These falls can be moderate to severe in nature, but are all too common among older adults. According to the Center for Disease Control, one out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year, yet less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it. When a fall occurs, most people assume the contributing factor is an unsafe home environment however, what most people don't know is that there are many other risk factors to consider.

As part of National Fall Prevention Month, BrightStar Care, a full-service private duty home care franchise that provides both medical and non-medical care to patients from infants to elders, is seeking to educate Americans on risk factors that can contribute to these deadly falls. By providing educational advice on fall prevention and working as a clinical ally to both clients and families looking to identify a loved one's risk of falling, BrightStar Care has carved a niche in the in-home care sector. The company provides a comprehensive assessment of an individual's likelihood of falling in the home, and upholds a system of checks and balances that evaluate a client's ever-changing physical status.

"After a fall occurs, many people will begin taking measures to ensure that the safety of their aging loved one is never compromised—home modification is traditionally the first step," said Sharon Roth Maguire, MS, RN, GNP-BC, Chief Clinical Quality Officer for BrightStar Care. "What folks may not realize is there are many other factors that come into play, in addition to an unsafe home environment, that may contribute to falls. It is vital to identify these issues and address them appropriately."

According to Roth Maguire, the following considerations should be taken into account when working to identify the cause of a fall:

Medication interactions—Sedatives, anti-depressants and anti-psychotic drugs can contribute to falls by reducing mental alertness, worsening balance and gait, and causing drops in systolic blood pressure while standing. In addition, mixing multiple medications increases a person's risk of falling. Talking with your healthcare provider about medications and working to identify medicines that may cause these side effects can reduce falling risks.

Lack of physical strength, balance—Failure to exercise regularly can result in poor muscle tone, decreased strength and loss of bone mass and flexibility. These factors all contribute to the severity of a fall. In addition, a loved one who has fallen before, even if they weren't injured, could develop a fear of falling that threatens to limit their activity and make them less mobile. Engaging in regular exercise to increase strength and muscle tone and taking extra time when transitioning from one position to another may reduce the risk.

Impaired vision—Age-related vision diseases, such as cataracts and glaucoma, alter an older person's depth perception, visual acuity, peripheral vision and susceptibility to glare. In addition, older adults may not possess the ability to recognize visual cues of danger and, in turn, take appropriate action. Although these diseases are sometimes unavoidable, obtaining regular eye exams can reduce the risk of a fall. Adding color and contrast to identify objects including grab bars and handrails may decrease vision related issues as well.

Environmental hazards—Poor lighting, loose rugs, lack of grab bars or poorly located/mounted grab bars, and un-sturdy furniture can increase tripping hazards. Improving safety around a loved one's home by adding grab bars inside and outside of the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding railings on both sides of stairways and improving the lighting where needed will aide in decreasing environmental hazards in the home.

Chronic conditions— Prolonged conditions such as Parkinson's disease or heart disease, greatly increase an older adult's risk of falling. Understanding the disease process and helping them follow a treatment plan, assisting them to doctor appointments and knowing red flag alerts, can reduce fall risk in people suffering from chronic conditions.

"At BrightStar Care, decreasing the risk of falls and educating families about fall risk is a core competency that we pride ourselves in providing," added Roth Maguire. "We relentlessly track falls that occur both when we are and are not present and we perform an in-depth analysis to reduce the likelihood that it will happen again."

As the only national private duty home care company to require Joint Commission accreditation at each location, BrightStar locations nationwide are committed to meeting National Patient Safety Goals around fall prevention. BrightStar Care takes a unique approach to decreasing fall risk by pairing their unmatched clinical expertise with key client education resources to help and empower both clients and families. As part of BrightStar's unique approach to reducing the likelihood of clients experiencing a fall, a Registered Nurse performs an evaluation of fall risk during initial and subsequent health assessments for every client. Proactive measures to address fall risk are then incorporated into individualized plans of care to promote safety in addition to addressing the specific care needs for each client. BrightStar's specially trained CNAs carry-out the client's individualized plan during every visit so the client is always benefitting from a focus on fall risk reduction.

For more information on falls and fall risk reduction, visit BrightStar Care's "Focus on Falls" section of BrightStarCare.com. To find helpful tips, videos, blog articles, and downloads geared toward helping families to mobilize around fall prevention, please see the Elderly Fall Resource Center.

About BrightStar Care

Based in Chicago, BrightStar Care is a national franchise with more than 250 locations that provide full-service staffing of medical and non-medical homecare to private clients from children to older adults within their homes, as well as supplemental staffing to healthcare organizations and corporate clients. Each of BrightStar's locations pursue Joint Commission accreditation, a nationally recognized measure of quality that is recognized throughout the healthcare industry. BrightStar Care's well-qualified, attentive caregivers provide peace of mind to clients and their families, providing a customized care plan to match clients with qualified, pre-screened caregivers that best suit their needs. BrightStar Care is one of the few home care providers that offer both medical and non-medical homecare, available to all clients 24/7. BrightStar uses the nationally known patient satisfaction survey company Press Ganey to measure client satisfaction and is proud that 9 out of 10 clients would recommend us to a friend.

For more information on BrightStar Care please visit brightstarcare.com; to find out more about BrightStar Franchising, visit www.brightstarfranchise.com.

CONTACT: Media Contact: Julianne Kennelly, Fishman Public Relations, 847-945-1300 or jkennelly@fishmanpr.com

Source: BrightStar Care