My Husband Falls While in Assisted Living. What Should I Do?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My husband is in an alzheimer's assised living facility. He has fallen 3 times. First time, we feel was due to mini stroke. second and third times no real explanation except maybe weakness on the right side. What can I do to help protect him from falling? He is in the latter stages and constantly wants to walk around. The attendants try to catch him and steer him to a chair, but he stays only a few minutes, then he is up and moving again. The falls have happened at night when he gets up from bed and falls in his room with no one around to help him until the attendants check on him. Can anyone give me some advice?

Expert Answers

Brenda Avadian, brings knowledge, hope, and joy to family caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer's and dementia. She cared for her father with Alzheimer's and helps families one-on-one and in groups. She is the author of eight books, including the pioneering memoir "Where's my shoes?" My Father's Walk through Alzheimer's and the Finding the JOY in Alzheimer's series. She presents vivid, compelling, and funny keynotes to both professional and family caregiving audiences.

Your cause for concern with your husband falling while in assisted living is important. If his fall causes a fracture or worse, a broken bone, whatever quality of life he enjoys now will be gone.

First, have the doctor evaluate him again to see what is going on. He may be suffering from ongoing TIAs (mini strokes) and the doctor may be able to adjust your husband's medications.

Beyond this, you have several options given your husband's need to get up and go at night, despite the potential for mini-strokes.

One, get a bed monitor.

As soon as he gets up from bed it will send a signal to attentive care staff to check up on him and prevent a fall.

Two, hire companion care.

If he usually gets up out of bed at a certain time each night, you could hire a person to sit with him for several hours each night. You may even find several staff members at the assisted living community who want to earn a little extra money during their off days who would be willing to help.

Three, use a bed with rails.

This might deter him from getting out of bed. But it seems he's pretty active and he may injure himself trying to find a way out.

Assisted living is really set up to assist residents with activities of daily living (ADLs). Once your husband requires greater care, you may need to arrange for greater care. However, this won't guarantee the care staff will be able to prevent your husband from falling.

Community Answers

Julie willett, rn answered...

Another option to consider is asking the assisted living to set you up with a Medicare Certified home health agency to provider him with some physical therapy to work with his gait and balance to reduce the risk of falling when he does get up. This benefit is covered under Medicare and most Medicare replacement plans at 100%, so there is no out of pocket cost.

Franchesca answered...

It is important to be sure that the staff have done a proper investigation to try and determine why your husband is attempting to get up at night. If he is uncomfortable, trying to get to the bathroom, hungry or thirsty. Most often, in my experience, a person who attempts to get up unassisted at night is trying to get to the bathroom, or to meet some particular need, and either doesn't remember how to, or isn't able to get help "in time". Be sure to ask if the call light is being left within his reach, ask if he can be taken to the bathroom at certain times at night, or add a service in which he can have additional assistance including a bedside cammode, or additional toileting. If the falls occurred at a certain time then schedule toileting or checks prior to that time. These are simple approaches but can be easily forgotten.