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Understanding Risks & Benefits: Caring for the Older Adult at Risk for Falling


Caring for the Older Adult at Risk for Falling

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Overview of Teaching Strategy 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services lists “Falls” as a never event, non-reimbursable when occurring in hospital settings.  Older adults are among the patients at greatest risks for complications related to falls. Falls have been reported to be the second leading cause of unintentional injury and disability in older adults worldwide (Ireland et al, 2013). Older adults can become anxious at the thought of a fall, lose confidence, and fear longer hospitalization.  However, many older adults feel a loss of independence due to the strict fall prevention guidelines implemented in health care settings. With this in mind, how can nurses weigh risks and benefits when 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 sound nursing judgment when weighing the risks and benefits of preventing falls in older adults. This teaching strategy 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 when orienting new graduate nurses. 

Learning Objectives
Students will: 

  • Assess the older adult’s individualized pattern and functional status using standardized fall prevention assessment tools.
  • Describe the complexities involved in making care decisions for older adults.
  • Discuss the importance and strategies for weighing risks versus benefits when caring for older adults.
  • Develop an understanding of integrating the RN’s concerns with ethics, policy, and judgment while respecting the older adult’s strengths, wishes and expectations. 

ACE.S Knowledge Domains

  • Individualized Aging
  • Complexity of Care
  • Vulnerability During Transitions 

ACE.S Essential Nursing Actions 

  • Assess Function and Expectations
  • Coordinate and Manage Care
  • Make Situational Decisions 

NLN Competencies for Graduates of Nursing Programs 

  • Human Flourishing
  • Nursing Judgment
  • Spirit of Inquiry

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