Nursing Home Falls And Why They Should Be Feared

Date: November 28, 2014
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One of the most common fears among seniors is falling, as it should be. Statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, present that “About 1,800 people living in nursing homes die each year from falls.”

Falls could be a reason that despite “About 5% of adults 65 or older live in nursing homes”, account for “20% of deaths in that age group.” Falls might be the results of other health related problems such as muscle weakness, difficulty walking, and medications that could bring negative side effects to mobility. On the other hand, a nursing home’s environment could be at fault as well. According to this information, “Environmental hazards in nursing homes cause 16%- 27% of falls among residents.” Nursing homes with poor lighting, unsuitable furniture, lack of handicap access, and unsupervised areas could cause a fatal fall for a nursing home patient. The injuries from these falls can cause serious injuries in 10-20% of victims and 2-6% cause fractures. Falls might also occur more than once as statistics show that the average patient in a nursing home experiences 2.6 falls a year. Also something to mention, not only is the physical injury important but also the emotional impact of falling. Many seniors who experience a fall may have feelings of “depression, feelings of helplessness, and social isolation” as a result.

One of the critical reasons someone places a loved one in a nursing homes is to prevent occurrences such as falls from happening. The possibility of falls, increases the risk of injury and declining health, should be the nursing home facility’s number one priority to prevent. As a  increasing number of the population is estimated to go into nursing home facilities, 3 million by 2030, with the many complexities of  health conditions in this elderly population, its important to recognize the measures that should be implemented in nursing homes in order to prevent falls from happening.

If you are a guardian or family member of a loved one in a nursing home, its important to see the preventative measures for falls in action at the nursing home facility. Preventative measures include easily accessible walkways and areas, staff protocol for falls, and plenty of guardrails with handicap accessible supports for the facility’s rooms and restrooms. It is also important to see if a patient’s current medications put them at risk for dizziness and muscle weakness as this can indicate a higher risk for falls. These medication effects should be known to the patients care providers. Additionally, it could be beneficial if the facility provides exercise programs to increase mobility and improve overall health. Exercise can help “improve balance, strength, walking ability, and physical functioning among nursing home residents.”

These preventative measure and protocols can make a significant improvement not only in the prevention of falls but in the care of your loved one. It is important to make sure that the nursing home facility has preventative measures to prevent falls in order to keep your loved one in as good health and provide the best care as possible.

 

Information presented in this blog can be found in the following link:

http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/nursing.html

Sean McDonough
Upon graduation from law school, he entered the private practice of law with Dougherty, Leventhal & Price. He has been a partner with the firm since 1993. Over the years, Sean has concentrated his practice in the areas of personal injury litigation; he has also represented governmental entities and officials in federal civil rights and employment lawsuits. Sean also works on many of DLP's Nursing Home Abuse cases.