How to Prevent Falls in Nursing Homes
More than 1.4 million Americans aged 65 years or older live in nursing homes, which accounts for 5 percent of the population in this age group. Of those living in a nursing home, about 1,800 people will die from falls each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that between half and three-quarters of nursing home residents fall each year, and since most residents fall more than once, there’s an average of 2.6 falls per person per year. These slip and falls can result in serious injury, fractures, and as shown above, even death. This is why it’s especially important that nursing homes implement measures and precautions to protect residents.
Fortunately, fall prevention interventions can be implemented on the organizational, staff and patient levels. Of course, when all 3 work together, the odds of preventing falls is even greater. Having an active role in your loved ones’ elder care, you can notice any signs of abuse or neglect before they escalate. Here are the steps nursing homes and residents can take to prevent falls:
Before a fall occurs:
– Educate staff and families of residents of the risk factors and prevention strategies.
– Review medication that the resident is taking and assess the potential risks and benefits.
– Take a look at the environment surrounding the resident. Is it safe? Changes such as lowering the toilet seat, lowering the bed height, placing pads next to the bed, and installing handrails in the hallways can help reduce falls.
– Provide patients with hip pads to protect against hip fractures in case of a fall.
– Muscle weakness and walking problems are the most common causes of falls among nursing home residents. Encourage residents to join exercise programs. This can improve balance, strength, walking ability, and physical function.
– Communicate with residents on how to avoid potentially hazardous situations. As difficult as it may be, elderly residents often forget how fragile their bodies can be.
– If a resident has a walking aid, teach him or her how to use it properly.
– Ensure shoes properly fit and avoid shoelaces that could get untied and cause residents to fall. Also, poor foot care can contribute to falls. It’s important to make sure feet are well maintained.
After a fall occurs:
– Assess the resident to determine why the fall happened, identify any medical conditions that may have caused the fall, and the risk of another fall happening.
– Seek any necessary medical treatment the resident needs – their health and wellness should be the first priority.
– If the danger that caused the fall can be replaced, repaired, or removed, act accordingly to prevent another fall from happening.
– If the resident needs additional day-to-day care, the elder car facility and family should discuss options.
– Although some nursing homes will try to turn to physical restraints, this actually does not help lower fall risks or injuries and therefore, should not be used as a fall prevention strategy. Limiting a patient’s freedom to move around can lead to muscle weakness, reduce physical function and in turn, actually increase the risk of fall-related injuries or deaths.
– If the fall occurred due to suspected abuse or neglect, the family should request further information on the care professional and seek out their legal options.
The more active role that families take in the health and treatment of a loved one in a nursing home, the better off your elderly loved one will be.
Unfortunately, you can’t be with your loved one at all hours of the day. If, despite your every effort and precaution, your loved one fell in a nursing home resulting in serious injury or death, contact our expert nursing home attorneys in Arizona.
We know how difficult this is for both the victims and their families. We take great pains to ensure our clients are aware of the case status and prepared for the steps to follow. The Phoenix injury lawyers at Knapp & Roberts will work to ensure you get the compensation you need and deserve, as well as fight to ensure the same mistakes don’t happen to another resident. Let us stand up for your loved one. Let us tell your story. Call us for a free consultation. There’s no charge to talking to us, and if we take the case, there’s no fee unless we succeed in getting compensation for the injuries or death of a loved one. Call 480-991-7677 today.
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