Talking To Your Loved One About Fall Risk

Talking To Your Loved One About Fall Risk

Recommendations for effectively discussing safe aging.

You've decided that it's time to consider modifying the home for your loved one. But how exactly should you gracefully navigate this conversation?

In this article we break down the three main steps to making sure the conversation around fall prevention doesn't leave your loved one feeling discouraged, belittled or resistant. In addition, we've provided some basic conversation examples to help you regardless of how resistant or open they are to implementing home modifications. 

Step 1: Empower Them

Let your loved one know that their voice is heard throughout this process. Start the conversation by asking them how they currently feel around the house. You might consider asking questions such as:

  • Are there areas of the home that you are worried about?
  • You had a bad fall last year, are you afraid of falling again?
  • Have you noticed any changes in your mobility around the home? 
  • Is there any part of your day that has become more challenging? Maybe getting in and out of the shower or using the stairs?

By engaging your loved one in discussion it will help them recognize areas that they could benefit from additional support as well as give you insight into the areas of the home that really need to most attention. 

Step 2: Lean Into Independence

Oftentimes older adults are hesitant about modifying the home because they don't want to be treated as if they're incapable of taking care of themselves.

That's why it's important you emphasize that making the home safer is all about independence.

Even just a few changes around the home, such as implementing motion sensor lighting or a grab bar, can give your parent a greater sense of security and even ability to leave the home. Wouldn't it feel amazing if they could easy slip on their shoes, walk down their stairs and head over to see their grandson's baseball game, without the need for assistance? We sure think so.

Step 3: Make This A Team Effort

 Home modifications shouldn't be a burden on your loved one. It's important that you emphasize that you're here for every step of the process and to make sure they feel heard, seen and helped. This process work best when it's a family effort and that's why the Jukebox Health team works to communicate with both you and your loved one, if they so chose.

Conversation Examples

In addition to the three step approach below are a variety of conversation examples. This model, based on CDC recommendations, gives you possible reactions your loved one might have as you both consider modifying the home.

We've included conversation examples for if your loved is . . .

  • Completely resistant to the idea of home modifications
  • Wanting to consider home modifications but has a lot of questions around cost and benefits
  • Ready to experiment with subtle and small changes first
  • Knows that they are at risk of falling and wants to make changes immediately

Resistant Stage:

In this stage your loved one currently doesn't see themselves as being at risk of falling. The goal in this stage of communicating is about providing information and explaining the reasons for taking preventative steps. Remember, home modifications aren't just about fall prevention. By adding modifications to your parents home it can dramatically increase their independence and confidence.

Your Loved One Says:

"I'm getting older, falls always happen when you get old."

You Can Say: 

"It’s true that falling is very common at your age but that doesn't mean you have to fall or injury yourself. There are easy changes we can make to the home that reduce your chances of falling and make sure you can continue to do all the things you love - uninterrupted."

Your Loved One Says:

"My fall last year was scary but it was a one time thing. Don't worry I'm much more cautious now, especially when I'm getting out of the shower." 

You Can Say: 

"I'm glad you're being more cautious after your fall but being cautious isn't always enough to prevent another fall. Could we explore a few really simple solutions together? There are a few non-invasive products that can be added to your shower that will make sure you don't slip."

Questioning Stage:

In this stage your loved one is considering the possibility of home modifications but has a lot of questions around cost and the actual benefit of making modifications to their home. The goal in this stage is to show them the direct benefit of home modifications. Although the Jukebox Health team will work with you and your loved one directly on this, there are a few things you can do to reassure them.

Your Loved One Says:

"I know I'm not as steady as I use to be but do grab bars actually help with balance?"

You Can Say: 

"Grab bars can make a big difference. You wouldn't need to worry about slipping in the shower if you had a way to balance yourself. How about we ask an expert what they think?" 

Your Loved One Says:

"I understand these products can be beneficial but I don't want my home to look like a hospital."

You Can Say: 

"Some of these safety products have come a long way. Even grab bars can be installed so you don't even notice them. I checked out the catalog of products from Jukebox Health and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. Could we walk through some of the products together?" 

Experiment Stage:

In this stage your loved one is beginning to notice changes in their mobility. They're ready to test out some solutions and are more open to change. The goal in this stage is to help them identify the most immediate needs and get them ready to have an expert come evaluate the home. 

Your Loved One Says:

"I’m worried about falling soon. Do you think there’s anything I can do to prevent a fall? I'm not sure where to begin."

You Can Say: 

"There are a lot of options to prevent falling at home that won't change your everyday life. I came across a company called Jukebox Health that has a team of experts that address fall risk. Why don't I schedule a call with them and see what it entails?" 

Your Loved One Says:

"My medication has been making me dizzy lately. I don't feel as steady as I was a year ago. I'm concerned about getting up and down the stairs."

You Can Say: 

"It's common for medications to make people dizzy. Let's discuss this with your doctor and also see what products there are to support your balance."

Ready Stage:

In this stage your loved one is worried about falling and knows they need to make modifications at home. The goal in this stage is to reduce their anxiety and worry about changes to their health and home. Reassure them that you are there for them and have found some solutions. 

Your Loved One Says:

"I heard grab bars are helpful. I know I'd feel safer if I had some in the bathroom. Can we get some installed?"

You Can Say: 

"Grab bars are a great way to prevent slips or falls. I also know they aren't terribly expensive. Let me reach out to a company I came across, Jukebox Health, and see when they could get some installed this next week." 

Your Loved One Says:

"Falling is serious and I'm worried that a fall down my steep stairs might really be bad. What could we do?"

You Can Say: 

"I'm going to contact a home safety expert I got contact info for. I know they will know what's the first step, and decide is a stairlift or railings might make sense. We will figure this out together."

We're Here to Help

At Jukebox Health we are here to help families like yours navigate healthy aging at home. If you have any questions or need help discussing home modifications with a loved one, never hesitate to reach out. Our Client Care Team is more than happy to share resources or get you scheduled for a free home safety checkup that will evaluate the home for fall risk. 

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