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Fall Prevention vs. Fall Mitigation: What’s the difference?| Written by: Eunice Yang, PhD.
Caregivers are all well aware of keeping fall rates to a minimum in their organizations. And with older adults, caregivers understand that preventing falls is the best way of ensuring they maintain their independence for as long as possible. But what is the primary difference between fall mitigation and fall prevention?
Fall prevention is a long-term strategy that focuses on preventing falls before they occur. Fall mitigation is an effective care strategy that focuses on actions taken in the short-term to reduce the immediate risk of falling.
Fall prevention influences outcomes on the long-term horizon, but mitigation uses interventions on the short-term horizon for better health outcomes.
Both are strategies for caregivers and care organizations to consider, but they have different goals.
Fall prevention aims to reduce the incidence of falls in a population. This can be done by influencing outcomes on the long-term horizon. Examples include education about risk factors and exercise programs, as well as medication management.
Fall mitigation focuses on influencing outcomes on the short-term horizon. Examples include using adult-care sitters, remotely monitoring adults using video cameras, and audio communication products like Amazon Alexa.
Prevention and mitigation work together to help older adults stay safe and maintain their independence, with the primary difference between fall mitigation and fall prevention being in the timing of the care delivery.
Prevent falls by healthy eating and exercise, but mitigate them by knowing exactly when compromised health could lead to a fall.
Prevention care focuses on keeping people healthy so they don't experience a fall in the future. Preventive measures include healthy eating habits and exercise routines that keep bones strong and muscles flexible. It also includes regular visits to doctors who monitor blood pressure numbers and other vital signs to make sure that any future problems are caught early on.
Fall mitigation care involves knowing in advance a compromise in health so care can be delivered exactly at the right time. However, this is hard because certain conditions, diseases, and medications make it unpredictable to know exactly when a chance of falling could occur. Although expensive, one of the best fall mitigation care is providing constant supervision. This level of care is most often provided by family members, paid caregivers, and residential care organizations.
Chuck Smith is 85 years old and recently fell during the middle of the night as he walked to his bathroom. His daughter who lives with him is worried and concerned for his safety. Chuck is evaluated by his doctor who recognizes that Chuck shows signs of balance difficulties and has a high chance of falling again.
What does preventive care look like? His doctor refers him to a physiotherapy clinic where he is taught exercises to improve his balance and coordination skills.
What does fall mitigation care look like? His doctors recommend that he receive supervised care, especially during the night. His daughter is considering hiring an in-home caregiver who can stay with Chuck while she is at work.
Prevent falls by using walkers and canes, but mitigate them by knowing exactly when a walking pattern could lead to a fall.
Fall prevention and fall mitigation can both reduce the chances of falling, but they have some key differences.
Walking canes, proper shoes, and eyeglasses help older adults to maintain balance and prevent falls, while fall mitigation helps the older adult keep safe, letting them know exactly when their walking pattern is compromised and providing real-time feedback they can take to avoid a fall.
John Hu is 75 years old and suffered a hip fracture due to a fall. He had a hip replacement, received physical therapy at a skilled nursing facility, and was recently sent home.
What does preventive care look like? He continues to receive weekly visits from a physical therapist and a nurse. His doctors want to make sure that he doesn't fall again. They made his living room and bedroom a safer place for him by removing rugs and creating a clear path for him to use his walker.
What does fall mitigation care look like? He uses a wearable device that monitors how he walks. The device reinforces proper walking by letting him know when his walking gait is good and modifications when gait patterns show room for improvement.
Read about additional ways to keep older adults safe here.
The primary difference between fall prevention and fall mitigation is a matter of time. Fall prevention uses interventions for improved outcomes in the future. Fall mitigation comes down to near-term awareness, actions, and benefits.
How can organizations start mitigating fall-related issues? No singular action or solution exists to this complex problem. With the help of technology, organizations can be equipped to address the problem more effectively.
OK2StandUP is the first AI fall mitigation solution that enables caregivers to mitigate falls. Learn more about this technology here.