On the surface, home modification appears to be a straightforward solution to reducing falls. Free home safety audits are offered by many businesses and organizations at no cost to the consumer. However, the effectiveness of home safety audits as a valid tool for reducing falls has been controversial and inconclusive.
To address this confusion, Clemson et al. (2008) conducted a systematic review of the highest quality studies that investigated the effectiveness of environmental interventions in reducing falls. The authors concluded that there is evidence that home visit interventions that are comprehensive, focused, and incorporate an environmental-fit perspective can be successful in reducing falls when targeted to high-risk older adults.
Home Modification reduces falls when interventions include Occupational Therapy
This study also found that the highest reduction in falls was achieved when the home interventions were provided by an occupational therapist. Occupational therapists are skilled at recognizing the fit between a person and the environment. A home assessment by an occupational therapist goes beyond hazard identification to an analysis of the environmental-fit. The occupational therapist problem solves, identifies solutions, and bases recommendations on many factors including medical conditions, history of falls, daily activity patterns, balance, strength, vision, cognition, and other functional skills.
Fall reduction is further achieved when the older person is willing to change risk-taking behavior. An occupational therapist teaches behavioral strategies to raise older adults awareness about their environment and how to negotiate it safely. A follow up visit is vital to the home modification process to ensure the recommendations have been carried out according to the client’s needs and desires.
To learn more about occupational therapy and home modification contact:
Nancy Dillinger, OTR, SCEM, ATP
Source. Clemson, L., Mackenzie, L., Ballinger, C., Close, J. Cumming, R. (2008). Environmental interventions to prevent falls in community-dwelling older people: a meta-analysis of randomized trials. Journal of Aging and Health, 20, 954-972.