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Caring for the Older Adult at Risk for Falling

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services lists “Falls” as a never event; non-reimbursable when occurring in hospital settings. Falls represent the leading cause of fatal injury in older adults (CDC, 2017). Older adults are among the patients at greatest risks for complications related to falls. Falls in community settings are the most common case of nonfatal trauma related hospital admissions. Managing falls cost over 50 billion dollars annually, with the majority of the burden placed on Medicare and Medicaid (CDC, 2017). Older adults are often very aware of the repercussions of falls resulting in anxiety and a loss of confidence. Conversely many older adults feel a loss of independence related to the strict fall prevention guidelines implemented in health care settings. Risk and benefit discussions are vital in planning and implementing fall prevention practices that allow for older adults to feel secure and demonstrate autonomy in their own care. This teaching strategy will guide faculty to teach nursing students how to use nursing judgment when weighing the risks and benefits of preventing falls in older adults. It can be utilized in a variety of teaching/learning situations: didactic lectures; clinical settings such as post- clinical conference/debriefings; simulation scenario debriefings; or small seminar discussions. In addition, the teaching strategy can be used with practicing nurses as a professional development activity, as well as with orienting new nurses. 

Caring for the Older Adult at Risk for Falling

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