Falls are the most common injuries among the elderly. Nursing home residents are twice as likely to experience falls than non-residents, and falls have been linked to nearly 2,000 resident deaths per year. The elderly are also more prone to injury because of a high chance of having osteoporosis, which makes their bones very fragile, takes longer for them to heal, and makes them more vulnerable to infections.
Many falls are not reported by nursing homes or care facilities. Even though residents are, on average, older and more vulnerable than non-residents, most of these falls should be able to be prevented. It is important to know the causes of falls and how to prevent a fall injuring you or a loved one. Get in touch with a Los Angeles elder abuse lawyer if you or a loved one has fallen at a facility.
What Causes Falls?
Wandering is the primary cause of fall-related injuries in nursing homes. Older individuals are not always conscious of their physical abilities or their surroundings and may try to stand up or walk around without being fully capable and without necessary personal assistance.
Medication can also play a role in increased risk of falling. Certain types of medication, especially psychotropic drugs, can affect brain function and cause drowsiness, confusion, and sedation, particularly with those suffering memory problems such as Alzheimer’s disease. Medication can also affect blood pressure or blood sugar and may cause a person to feel unbalanced or light-headed when standing up after sitting or lying down.
Normal changes associated with getting older, such as poor vision or hearing, also increase the risk that someone will suffer a fall. Older people are also more susceptible to illness and decreased physical ability, which affects balance. Environmental factors, such as an untidy living space or poor lighting, make it more likely that a trip and fall will happen.
How Can Falls Be Prevented?
Supervision is the most basic way to prevent most falls. This is especially true for elderly people who use canes or walkers or suffer from cognitive issues like Alzheimer’s disease. Nursing home residents are normally assessed for fall risk upon admission to a facility, and nursing home staff are required to monitor and assist residents who are more prone to falling. Nursing homes may also be expected to install call lights and bed alarms to prevent their residents from wandering, and should also make sure that environmental dangers, such as slippery or unkempt floors and poor lighting, are appropriately eliminated. Staff should also ensure that their residents have the proper shoes and suitable walking aids. You may want to contact a Los Angeles elder abuse lawyer if you suspect that a fall occurred as a result of poor supervision.
Asking your loved one’s doctor or pharmacist to review medication can also help prevent falls. You and your doctor should consider the benefits and risks of each medication, and note any medications, such as psychotropic drugs, that can greatly increase the risk for falls.
Other prevention methods including getting regular eye exams and getting new glasses when needed, exercising to improve strength and coordination, and making the living space safer by eliminating clutter and objects that could cause someone to trip and fall.
Let the nursing home or care facility know whether your loved one has fallen before and whether they have any conditions or are on any medications that may make them more susceptible to falling. If you suspect that your loved one has fallen, ask them and other residents whether your loved one has fallen and watch whether the staff are monitoring and assisting other residents when they are standing up or walking. You may also want to contact an elder abuse attorney in Los Angeles if you believe that a fall was a result of nursing home neglect.
Contact An Elder Abuse Attorney Today
The Law Offices of Ben Yeroushalmi exclusively represent victims of elder abuse and can help you if you or a loved one has suffered abuse or neglect in a nursing home or care facility. Fall-related injuries are warning signs of elder neglect, and our Los Angeles-based attorneys can help you or your loved one in the event of a fall. To learn more, contact us online or at (310) 623-1926.