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My nurses take many precautions to prevent patient falls, such as assisting patients during trips to the bathroom and ensuring canes and walkers are available. What are some lifestyle risk factors my nurses should be aware of to reduce falls?

Modifiable risk factors include those related to a patient's lifestyle choices. Although we can reduce the potential for falling and for fall-related injuries by changing these lifestyle characteristics, patients need support and encouragement to help them change lifelong, ingrained habits. Lifestyle risk factors include the following:

  • Inadequate nutrition, which increases the risk of falling and also the chance of serious injury from falls
    o Inadequate calcium and vitamin D intake leads to low bone mass
    o Inadequate protein and calorie intake leads to low muscle mass and weakness
  • Excessive alcohol intake, whether acute or chronic, which contributes to a variety of short- and long-term problems with balance, nutrition, weakness, and movement control
  • Inactivity, which causes deterioration in muscle strength, bone mass, and joint flexibility
  • Loss of strength and flexibility which lead to loss of confidence and fear of falling
  • Lower bone mass which makes injury more likely when a fall occurs
  • Smoking, which leads to poor cellular oxygenation and low bone mass

—Carole Eldridge, DNP, RN, CNAA-BC