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Preventing Falls

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When older people fall, the consequences can be tragic. A broken hip can limit mobility or even lead to premature death. That's why preventing falls is so important. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force reviewed 54 studies on the best strategies for preventing falls in older people. The two most important interventions are both simple and inexpensive. Vitamin D supplementation at or above 800 International Units a day reduced falls by 17 percent on average. Exercise was next best at 13 percent. The investigators acknowledge that their analysis is not the final word, but these two approaches are low risk, low cost and accessible to most people.

[Annals of Internal Medicine, December 21, 2010]

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I have been a critical care nurse for more than 30 years and recently started working as a state surveyor monitoring assisted living facilities. I monitor the medications given to the residents and find that the majority of errors are medications given to the residents by medication technician that have passed a four hour medication pass test.

The residents are not capable of identifying the medications due to their diagnosis, The majority have dementia, schizophrenia, depression, etc.
These medications are prescribed by their physicians, nurses practitioners or a combination of. Some of the residents are expected to take approximately ten to fifteen pills at one time in the morning. Something most humans are unable to tolerate without side effects of upset stomach, diarrhea or constipation. If a sedative is added or a psychotropic drug... let's include a fall risk. From that point they may have a hospitalization due to fractured hips or head injuries. The larger the facilities the more responsibility is placed on a Medication Tech with four hours of training and yearly up-dates.

This is an area that needs increased in monitoring and pharmaceutical technicians to focus on medications given and especially controlled substance.

Thank you.

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