The impact of care recipient falls on caregivers Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • OBJECTIVE: This study sought to explore the impact of care recipient falls on caregivers. METHODS: Ninety-six community-dwelling caregiver-care recipient dyads participated in a 12-month prospective study. Falls and other accidents and service use were recorded. Dyads were assessed at baseline and after each fall. Assessment included the Zarit Burden Interview and a post-accident survey developed for the present study. Focus groups were then conducted to further explore the impact of falls on caregivers. RESULTS: Fifty-four care recipients (56%) experienced falls within the 12 months of the study. There was a significant increase in caregiver burden after the first fall (Zarit Burden Interview score increased from 24.2±14.2 to 27.6±14.5, P<0.01). Twenty-four percent of caregivers reported that they had altered their usual routine after the fall, mainly not wanting to leave the care recipient alone. However, there was no increase in the number of services used. Focus group discussions highlighted the need for constant vigilance of the care recipient, a lack of knowledge about support services and concerns related to utilising respite care. CONCLUSION: Falls among care recipients have a significant impact on carers, including an increased fear of falling, prompting the need for even closer vigilance. WHAT IS KNOWN ABOUT THE TOPIC? Falls are a significant problem for older people as one in three older people fall each year and injurious falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalisation in older people. In Australia falls cost the economy over $500 million per year. WHAT DOES THIS PAPER ADD? This paper adds a unique perspective to the falls literature, that of the older person's carer. Falls are a significant problem for community-dwelling carers of older people, contributing to carer burden and impeding the carer's ability to undertake activities of daily living because of the perceived need for constant vigilance to prevent the person they care for from falling. WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTITIONERS? Practitioners should ensure that carers are aware of evidence-based falls-prevention practices and services, such as group and individual exercise programs, home modifications and podiatry, that might assist to prevent falls in the person they care for and therefore reduce the burden of care.

publication date

  • 2013