The Six Warning Signs, What They Mean
Our bodies’ joints grow weaker and our body balance shifts as we age. Additionally, people in their later years suffer from muscular degeneration and poorer vision. When these conditions of aging are combined with certain medications and unsafe environments found in too many of our nation’s negligent nursing homes, you have the recipe for a Warning Sign that accounts for the largest number (29%) of injury deaths in adults aged 65 and older: Falls.
Though the effects of aging increases the chances of a person falling in later life, falling under facilitated care is not to be expected and is not okay. Even low-level falls can cause serious and lasting injury or death. It is vital that your loved one in nursing home care receive the treatment and attention they deserve so that preventable falls do not occur.
Staff Falling Down on the Job
When a resident enters a nursing home, the nursing home or assisted living facility must, by law, design a care plan. This care plan includes an assessment of the resident's risk of falling to determine what assistance your loved one may need to get around.
It is a sad fact, but many nursing home falls are due to nursing home staff’s negligence. Studies have found that nursing home falls are compounded by staff inattention to such details as wet floors, poor lighting, improper bed height, and poorly fitted wheelchairs.
The Gravity of Nursing Home Falls
Unfortunately, these mistakes can have permanent effects. Experts estimate that two-thirds of all elderly who fall will suffer another fall again within six months. A Center for Disease Control and Prevention report states: “Of those who fall, 20% to 30% suffer moderate to severe injuries that make it hard to get around or live alone and increase the chance of early death.”
Falls can and should be prevented without using restraints. Although restraints (such as bedrails) have often been used for nursing home residents with a history or high risk of falls, studies have shown that limiting a resident’s freedom of movement can actually contribute to fall-related injuries.
Alternative interventions that can reduce the risk of falls include physical conditioning and walking programs, lowering bed heights and removing clutter from around the bed, installing raised toilet seats, fixing or replacing substandard wheelchairs and furniture, using properly fitted shoes, and having enough staff to assist with transfers (i.e. between bed, chair, toilet)—all simple actions and adjustments that cost little to implement but a lot (your loved one’s health and, possibly, life) if they aren’t.
Lawyers for Change
If your parent or loved on in nursing home care has suffered from a negligent fall, do not wait until hidden medical complications arise or it is too late to take legal action. If you suspect a loved one may have suffered a broken bone or other serious injury from a nursing home fall, contact the Consumer Justice Group. There's not cost to speak with one of our experienced nursing home lawyers. And our attorneys never charge a fee unless we collect on your behalf.
The Department of Health’s Center outreach page for the prevention of falls contains unsettling facts and figures about the frequency of elderly falls in its report “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Injury Research Agenda: Preventing Injuries at Home and in the Community. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control” (2002). It also contains easy-to-read factsheets in a determined effort to reduce the death and permanent injury suffered by fallers.
Though written by the British Columbian Office of the Provincial Health Officer, “Prevention of Falls and Injuries Among the Elderly” (2005) contains interesting and relevant information for all elderly persons in Western health care. In it, the Office correlates the effects of a set sleep routine and the reduction of falls, the prevalence and dangers of hip injury, and many other items of note for nursing home residents.
“Preventing Falls in the Elderly” (2006), a webpage written by two Colorado State University professors, compiles some scary statistics and studies concerning the frequency of falls and significance of the injuries in the elderly
The Nursing Home Abuse & Nursing Home Neglect News is a service of the Consumer Justice Group.