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Why Are Older Adult Falls More Common in Nursing Homes?

Elderly people are more susceptible to both falls and the injuries they cause. At nursing homes, in particular, residents fall frequently and repeatedly, which can be extremely harmful to their health and quality of life. In some cases, these falls can be fatal.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1,800 older adults living in nursing homes die from fall-related injuries each year. Countless other residents suffer hip fractures and head injuries that lead to permanent disability and otherwise interrupt their lives.

Aren’t Staff Supposed to Take Care of Residents?

Yes. The fact that nursing home residents are generally more fragile than the rest of the population and that falls can be indicative of other health concerns is no excuse for the prevalence of these accidents at nursing homes.

Under the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, staff must anticipate a resident’s risk for falls and provide them with the appropriate care. Nursing homes must also take steps to solve common problems, such as older adult falls. If a nursing home does not have a fall prevention plan, in fact, it may be in direct violation of the law.

Another common problem in nursing homes is understaffing. If a resident needs help with their mobility and there are not enough staff to provide this assistance, that resident might fall trying to complete a task by themselves.

Nevertheless, inadequate training and staff at a nursing home may be grounds for negligence when a resident is hurt.

Ultimately, there is no excuse for the increased prevalence of falls in the nursing home environment.

Where and When Falls Take Place

Older adults fall most frequently when getting in and out of bed. These falls may be caused by “environmental hazards,” such as incorrect bed height, wet floors, poor lighting, and/or improperly fitted or maintained wheelchairs.

If staff are not trained properly, they may also botch routine “transfers,” causing residents to fall and hurt themselves while going to and from beds and wheelchairs. Staff may also misuse other assistive devices, such as walkers or canes.

Additionally, falls occur more regularly when patients are medicated. Drugs that affect the central nervous system, like sedatives and anti-anxiety medicines, can severely affect a resident’s ability to walk. When a resident’s medications are changed, their fall risk is increased for at least 3 days. As such, staff should be especially cautious with the drug intake of their residents.

If Your Trust Has Been Violated

When you admit your elderly loved one to a nursing home, you expect them to receive quality care and be protected from the hazards they face as an older adult. If the negligence of the nursing home or its staff has violated your trust and harmed your loved one, you deserve justice.

Similarly, any individual who has suffered mistreatment or neglect while living at a nursing home should not suffer in silence.

If you or someone you love has fallen or otherwise been injured at a nursing home, please contact our attorneys at Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC.

We offer free consultations and can be reached at (843) 968-0886 or online.