According to Managed Health Care Connect, preventing falls in nursing homes presents an ongoing challenge. While about 5 percent of adults aged 65 and older live in nursing homes, this vulnerable population accounts for about 20 percent of all fall-related deaths in this age group. Between 50 percent and 75 percent of nursing home residents fall annually, which is twice the rate of falls among older adults who are not in a nursing home.
Typical causes of falls among the elderly include:
- Effects of inactivity on strength and balance
- Medical conditions
- Certain diseases
- Medication side effects
- Poor lighting
- Clutter in the living space
- Uneven flooring
- Unstable furniture
- Walkers and wheelchairs which are in disrepair
- Unsafe footwear
- Inaccessible items which require reaching, stretching or bending over
A fall that might be little more than a nuisance for a younger individual can result in disability, reduced quality of life, functional decline, and even death among older individuals. Additionally, the fear of falling can lead to social isolation, depression, feelings of helplessness, and further loss of function among nursing home residents. Because falls among the elderly are so serious, fall prevention is essential.
Addressing a Patient’s Physical Issues Prior to the First Fall
One of the first steps to be taken in reducing falls among elderly nursing home residents is addressing the issue prior to the first fall. This involves identifying risk factors, including a history of home falls.
Many potential falls can be related to medication or physical conditions, including osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and pain. A comprehensive physical exam which measures the individual’s vision, joint function, cognitive functions, muscle strength, mobility, and cardiovascular function is essential. The footwear the individual typically wears should also be noted.
Reducing Nursing Home Falls
In order to reduce the number of nursing home falls, facilities should be aware of the following and make corresponding adjustments:
- Fainting can occur when patients experience a sudden drop in blood pressure after standing up quickly.
- Patients who are still for lengthy periods can experience pain and discomfort, therefore, may attempt to get up and move around on their own. Immobile patients need to be engaged and comfortable to prevent this.
- Rubber-soled athletic shoes should be worn, or any shoes which lace-up or strap on and can fit the patient snugly; slip-on shoes should be avoided.
- Daily exercise, which improves balance, strength, and gait, should be promoted.
- ● Additional staff assistance should be provided at high-risk times, such as mornings, evenings, and mealtimes.
- Adjustments to wheelchairs and beds must be made.
Contact Our Arizona Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Today
If your loved one has experienced falls in a nursing home, abuse or neglect could be occurring. If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect, contact Arizona nursing home abuse attorneys as soon as possible.
At Miller Kory Rowe LLP, our Arizona nursing home abuse lawyers are here every step of the way. Contact us today at (602) 461-8640 for a free initial consultation and review of your case. We can help you protect your loved one and obtain the compensation you need to help them through this horrific ordeal. Call today.