Nursing Home Falls Are Preventable

By Jeff Stewart, The Bell Law Firm

Falls by nursing home residents are a big problem.

According to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only about 5 percent of adults ages 65 and older live in nursing homes, but nursing home residents account for about 20 percent of deaths from falls in their age group. The CDC also reports that adults in that age group are four times more likely to die of fall-related injuries if they live in nursing homes compared to those who live at home or with loved ones. Up to 75 percent of nursing home residents fall each year a rate more than double that of senior citizens not in nursing homes

Falls are a serious issue because they can result in disability, functional decline and reduced quality of life. Also, fear of falling is its own problem because it can cause further loss of function, depression, feelings of helplessness and social isolation.

Falls can be prevented. Each nursing home should take a multidisciplinary approach to preventing falls. That includes assessing patients following falls to address risk factors, educating staff about prevention strategies, re­ viewing medicines to assess their risks and benefits and minimize their use and making changes in the nursing home environment. Most importantly, it has been found that the easiest tool for preventing falls is for nurs­ ing homes to provide adequate staffing. The CDC has found that as many as 27% of nursing home falls occur because of such hazards as poor lighting, wet floors, incorrect bed height and wheelchairs that are im­ properly fitted or maintained.

Caregiver helping an elderly woman with her walking aid

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, make sure it has a multidisci­plinary approach to preventing falls. If you discover your loved has cuts or bruises or seems more fearful of falling, ask your loved one if he or she has fallen. Or ask other residents about that.

If you suspect negligence or abuse, consider calling leaders in the field, such as The Bell Law Firm of Charleston, which has successfully represented abused elderly residents and their families in many lawsuits against nursing homes. The initial consultation is free, and The Bell Law Firm gets paid only if the case is won. Getting ready to put someone in a nursing home? Call for a free document review. More information is available toll-free at 844-700-490 or at www.BellLaw.com.