The Dangers of Nursing Home Falls: How Can We Prevent Elders From Falling?

slip-and-fallOne of the most common dangers that the elderly encounter in nursing home settings is the potential for falls. According to the CDC, approximately 1,800 elderly adults die each year from fall-related injuries, while those that suffer from injuries as the result of a fall experience a long-term reduction in their quality of life or lasting handicaps and disabilities.

While 2% to 6% of elderly nursing home residents suffer fractures as the result of a fall, 10% to 20% of all elderly falls result in injuries more serious in nature–from cognitive disabilities and post-injury anxiety to an overall decline in both physical and mental health.

One way to prevent a tragic fall from occurring is to arm your self with vital information regarding the common causes that elders fall, and ways to prevent a fall from occurring altogether.

What causes elderly falls?

• About 24% of falls experienced by seniors in nursing homes are the result of larger problems with mobility and muscle weakness.

• Nursing home environmental hazards are often to blame for an elder resident’s fall, including: insufficient lighting, wet floors, bed height that has not been properly adjusted, faulty or poorly maintained wheelchair or walking instruments, and/or disabled residents left unattended for long periods of time.

• Certain medications may also increase the potential for a serious fall to occur. Certain sedatives, muscle relaxants, anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety medications may affect an elder resident’s ability to safely navigate their surroundings, significantly increasing the risk of a fall.

• Improper footwear or injury to the legs, ankles, or feet may also result in a fall if an elder resident is not properly outfitted and trained with the appropriate walking assistance tools, or if they are not adequately assisted by nursing home staff.

How do we prevent elders from falling in nursing homes?

• Addressing any underlying medical conditions, like muscle weakness, dementia, immobility, or other injuries or cognitive impairments may prevent falls and ensuing injury from occurring.

• Ensuring that nursing home staff is properly trained to recognize reduced physical and cognitive ability in residents, and are equipped to assist in residents’ mobility may reduce the risk of falls and related injuries.

• Hip pads are an effective tool that reduce the chances of a fracture should a fall occur.

• Instituting monitored, appropriate exercise regimens can improve the overall health and mobility of nursing home residents, building muscle strength and improving overall mobility.

If you or an elderly loved one has suffered a fall while residing in a nursing home, contact a knowledgeable and experienced elder abuse attorney in San Diego who can advise you of your rights and options.

If you are concerned that a friend, family member, or loved one has been suffering from nursing home abuse or negligence, or has been injured as a result of a fall, contact an experienced California elder abuse lawyer to evaluate your case and advise you on your next steps. San Diego Elder Abuse Lawyer, Christopher Walton, has built a reputation for providing compassionate and strong advocacy for victims of elder abuse and their families. Call (866) 338-7079 for a confidential consultation.