During the past two decades, significant research and several government and health care quality groups have advised against the use of physical restraints in hospitals and nursing homes, yet older adults are continuing to die, become injured or experience the iatrogenic complications associated with this practice. Deaths are usually caused by asphyxiation, but also occur from strangulation, or cardiac arrest. Older adults with dementia are at high risk for restraint use because of impaired memory, language, judgment and visual perception. In moderate to severe dementia, the risk of falls is greater because of gait apraxia and unsteadiness. Agitation, disorientation, and pacing behaviors from delirium or dementia can precipitate staff to use restraints to prevent harm to the older adult or to others. Physical restraints should be eliminated as an intervention in older adults with dementia because they are also very likely to cause acute functional decline, incontinence, pressure ulcers and regressive behaviors in a short period of time. The purpose of this paper is to disseminate the dangers of this clinical practice and to summarize the latest research in restraint free care and restraint alternatives in the United States.
- Physical restraint
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