For those with family members residing in nursing homes, there are several common concerns. Are they getting proper nutrition and hydration? Are they being repositioned frequently to prevent pressure ulcers (commonly known as bed sores)? What precautions are being taken to prevent nursing home falls?
Preventing nursing home falls is especially important because, unfortunately, falls are very common amongst the elderly, both inside and outside of nursing homes, assisted living centers, and long-term care facilities. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that millions of elderly Americans are involved in falls each year and that falls are the leading cause of injuries in those 65 and older. Although some falls are minor in nature, falls can be very serious and even fatal.
Common Risk Factors for Falls
About 25,000 older Americans died in falls in the last year reported by the CDC. When it comes to non-fatal falls, age is a predominant factor. Those who are age 75 or older are some four to five times more likely to be injured badly enough to be admitted to a long-term care facility following a fall than persons between the ages of 65 and 75.
There are many factors that can increase the risk of a fall. Certain medications increase the risk of a fall for a patient. Those with a history of past falls are at an ever-increasing risk of more falls. If patients struggle with walking or have a shuffling gait, those patients are more prone to falls. Another factor that can lead to falls is co-morbidities, which is the presence of two or more diseases or chronic conditions in a patient. Nursing homes should keep an especially close eye on patients who present these problems to ensure they are not injured in a fall.
Injuries that Frequently Accompany Serious Falls
In addition to bruises and lacerations, fractures are very common in those elderly Americans who suffer falls. The CDC reports that more than 95% of hip fractures or broken hips happen because of a fall. This amounts to more than a quarter of a million hip fractures and hip breaks every year.
Prevention of Falls and Fractures
Another important way to prevent falls is to reduce tripping hazards and place grab bars around the toilet and bathtub. Improved lighting can also help. Patients should regularly have a fall risk assessment, with medical staff looking for falls risks, including any of the conditions listed above. Nursing homes should also have alarms in place that alert staff if a patient who has a risk of a fall is getting out of bed. Patients with a risk for a fall should be accompanied to the bathroom, and staffing levels should allow a staff person to only tend to one patient at a time.
For those in nursing homes, it is important that staff members frequently check on the patient and respond promptly when the resident needs to get out of bed. Nursing home falls can be avoided, but staff must be vigilant.
In some cases, medications can contribute to falls. For this reason, it helps to speak with medical personnel, including nursing home staff, about whether medicines (both over the-counter and prescription) are likely to cause dizziness. Proper nutrition, including calcium supplements and vitamin D, can reduce the likelihood of a fracture or break if a fall does happen.
If You Suspect a Loved One’s Fall May Have Resulted from Nursing Home Neglect
If your loved one has been injured in a Kentucky nursing home fall, you may be wondering whether the fall could have been prevented by the nursing home staff and medical personnel. If the fall resulted in serious injury or death, you should talk to an attorney about your concerns. The nursing home negligence attorneys at English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley can help you investigate your loved one’s fall and determine whether neglect, abuse, or mistreatment may have been factors in causing the fall. To schedule an appointment, call us at 270-781-6500. We represent nursing home residents and their families throughout Kentucky, including Bowling Green, Russellville, and Morgantown.