Although falls are preventable, they occur much too often in adults aged 65 years and older. In fact, one out of four older adults fall every year resulting in 3 million older adults needing to be treated for a fall injury. As we celebrate Senior Independence Month this February, an awareness on how health literacy and effective communication can foster a safe quality of life and independence among older adults is essential.
Older adults may experience falls due to factors related to aging such as cognitive decline, changes in vision, or changes in physical strength and gait. Many of these risk factors can be modified, but it can be more challenging in those with low health literacy skills. Respectfully asking open ended questions is one communication method nurses can use to encourage their patients and caregivers to share information about their living space and what steps to take to eliminate or minimize the risk of falls.
As the population of older adults continues to substantially grow, nurses have a vital role to clearly communicate regarding safety information and fall prevention. Living a safe, independent lifestyle is important for all older adults.