Nursing Home Falls
Falling is a frequent and repeated problem for many nursing home residents. When compared by age, residents of nursing homes fall more often than residents who remain in the community. The percentage of adults 65 and older who live in nursing homes in the U.S. is about 5 percent, yet residents of nursing homes account for approximately 20 percent of falls among people this age. Part of this is due to nursing home residents being frailer than people of the same age who live in the community.
General Statistics about Falls Among the Elderly
- One in three adults older than 65 falls every year.
- Among these persons, falls are the leading cause of death.
- Falls in this group are also the leading cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions due to trauma.
- 2.3 million nonfatal injuries from falls occurred in those over 65 in 2010.
- Of this number, over 662,000 were admitted to the hospital.
- Severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head trauma, in this age group can increase the risk of early death.
- The direct medical cost of falls in older adults in 2010 was $30 billion.
- Between 20 and 30 percent of falls cause moderate to severe injuries that make it more difficult to move around independently and increase the chances of early death. These injuries include lacerations, hip fractures and head trauma.
- One-half to three-quarters of nursing home residents fall annually. This equals twice the number of falls among the elderly living in the community.
- Falling is the cause of most traumatic brain injury among older adults.
Causes of Nursing Home Falls
Falls among nursing home residents may have a number of causes. Often a combination of factors leads to falls. These include:
- Too few staff members to keep an eye on patients
- Frailty of the residents and lack of muscle strength
- Medications that sedate residents
- Medications that cause dizziness
- Beds that are too high
- Slippery floors
- Wet floors
- Lack of grab bars in hallways and bathrooms
- Orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure) leading to dizziness when rising from a sitting or reclining position
- Poor lighting in hallways
- Clutter in resident’s rooms or hallways
- Difficulty seeing
- Poor foot wear
- Incorrect use of walking aids
- Poor wheelchair upkeep
Some facilities use post-fall evaluations of patients to understand what caused their falls and how to prevent them. Such assessments and follow-up remediation of problems can help avoid many falls in the future. Some plans to evaluate and prevent falling include:
- Timely evaluations after a fall
- Staff education
- Exercise programs
- Reviews of drug regimens
- Providing hip protectors
Falling is a serious problem among the elderly and especially residents of nursing homes. The concentration of the elderly in one place increases the statistical risk of falling and the need for heightened awareness among caregivers. The need to evaluate the reasons for the fall and take corrective action is imperative.
Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
If one of your loved ones had a serious fall and was consequently injured in a nursing home, it is important to investigate the reason for the fall. If the facility or its employees are responsible, you might want to contact a lawyer to see if your loved one can be compensated for medical care plus pain and suffering from the injury.