Falls are the number one cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in Americans age 65 years and older, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA).
Many nursing home residents are afraid of falls and often limit their physical activities and social interactions. Ironically, this can lead to a faster physical decline, depression, and lower self-esteem.
The NCOA offers several prevention programs at community centers and residential facilities. There are also simple things that you can do to prevent falls that could leave your spouse or parent injured.
Six Effective Ways on How to Prevent Falls
If you would like to know how to prevent falls, there are several things to keep in mind. Nursing home residents are more likely to fall because they are elderly and usually have an underlying health or medical condition that can make balance an issue. That is why talking to your loved one’s doctor is the first action for effective fall prevention, as recommended by the Mayo Clinic.
Certain Medical Conditions or Medications Increase Risk of Falls
Your doctor can explain the risk of falls as a result of certain medications. Some antidepressants, for example, can make you drowsy. Other medicines, like the ones often prescribed for high blood pressure, might make you feel dizzy. Your doctor might be able to prescribe alternatives or wean you off certain medicines.
Some health conditions can increase your risk of falls. Inner ear issues, poor eyesight, or numbness in your legs or feet can affect how well you walk. Ask your doctor to evaluate your walking style (gait), balance, and muscle strength.
The more you move, the stronger you become. Low impact exercise like walking can reduce the risk of falls by improving your muscle strength, balance, and coordination. (Always get your doctor’s approval before starting any exercise program.)
Other safe low impact exercises include:
- Water aerobics classes
- Tai chi
Many nursing homes have structured exercise classes with an instructor or physical therapist. It is worth investigating to see if there are programs for your loved one.
Use Proper Footwear
Some shoes can increase your risk of falls because they lack the proper support, or they impede your ability to regain your balance. This includes floppy slippers, high heels, or shoes with a slick sole. Take the time to get proper fitting shoes that give you plenty of grip and reduce the chance of slipping.
Make Sure There Is Good Lighting
Nursing homes should meet state and federal guidelines for well-lit hallways, elevators, and walkways. Make sure you have a bedside lamp that turns on easily for middle-of-the-night bathroom trips. You may want to replace the traditional light switch with a plate that glows in the dark or is illuminated.
Have Clear, Clutter-free Paths
Remove potential hazards from high-traffic areas like hallways, bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and living areas. Area or accent rugs are trip hazards, as are thresholds that are broken or uneven. Put a nonskid mat or rug in the bathroom.
Use Assistive or Adaptive Devices
Many older people use canes or walkers for balance when they are changing positions (from seated to standing) as well as walking. There are other assistive devices that can prevent falls. Nursing home showers have grab bars, but you can do more to prevent falls in the bathroom, where many falls happen. Get a sturdy plastic shower seat or bench and a handheld shower nozzle so you can stay safely seated while showering. You might also want a raised toilet seat with arms or grab handles for extra support.
Falls Are a Huge Healthcare Issue for Adults 65 and Older
Each year, one in four American adults age 65 and older experience a fall, according to the NCOA.
- An adult 65 or older is treated in the emergency room every 11 seconds, with 2.8 million emergency room visits for falls each year.
- An older adult dies from a fall every 19 minutes leading to an average of 27,000 deaths each year.
- Falls are the most common factor in trauma-related hospital admissions, with over 800,000 hospital stays every year.
Falls Can Be a Sign of Negligence
Although older people have a propensity to fall, frequent falls may be a sign of nursing home abuse or neglect. Residents who receive substandard care or who are neglected or ignored by their caregivers are more at risk for falls. Any facility that turns a blind eye to abuse or neglect should be held liable for your loved one’s pain and suffering.
You Could Be Awarded Damages
A nursing home abuse lawyer can help you pursue compensation and justice from a negligent nursing home. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today for a free consultation. We do not shy away from the tough cases and can help you build a case to hold the liable party accountable.
To learn more about potential compensation for nursing home abuse or neglect, call (800) 842-6336 for your free case evaluation. Our lawyers work on a contingency fee basis so there are no out-of-pocket or upfront costs unless we secure a settlement on your behalf.