Muscle strength decreases as people age, and muscle strength remains critical to maintaining balance. As elderly adults lose muscle mass and muscle strength, muscle weakness and falls in older adults may occur, which may result in serious injuries or even death. Nursing homes have a duty and responsibility to ensure that they monitor and assist those elderly residents who suffer from muscle weakness in daily activities that may cause them to fall if they attempt to perform these activities without assistance. If a nursing home fails to ensure the proper care and assistance to residents, it may bear responsibility for nursing home negligence.
Muscle Mass and Strength
According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the slow and gradual loss of muscle mass and strength in elderly people oftentimes results in functional impairment, the need to have assistance for daily activities, and an increased risk in the possibility of falling and suffering broken bones or internal injuries. Maintaining muscle strength in the elderly proves crucial as they age, and nursing homes have a responsibility to ensure that their residents receive proper nutrition, hydration, and appropriate exercise to keep their muscle mass and strength.
Muscle Weakness and Falls
Muscle weakness occurs in some elderly people—and even more so with elderly residents of nursing homes who may have even less of an opportunity to exercise or move frequently. Additionally, muscle weakness can occur due to certain medications that an elderly person may take or a lack of nutrition or hydration. Vitamin D deficiency can also contribute to muscle weakness and muscle loss.
Elderly adults may have to go to the hospital for hip fractures due to a fall. Falls can cause broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, or even create a fear of falling, which dramatically impacts the ability of an elderly person to do everyday activities. Inactivity can then decrease their muscle mass even more.
Consequences of Falls Due to Muscle Weakness
Any fall suffered by an elderly resident of a nursing home may result in lifelong medical complications—or even death. When an elderly resident has muscle weakness and falls and injures themselves, they may receive lacerations, bruising, internal injuries, or broken bones, and they may have to receive treatment in an emergency room. In some cases, they will need emergency surgery or many months of therapy. In those cases when an elderly person suffers a broken bone, internal injuries, or a traumatic brain injury, they may have to stay in bed, which causes them to lose even more muscle mass. Staying in bed may ultimately result in serious bedsores or infections.
Emotionally, elderly residents who fall may become fearful of moving and fearful that they may fall again. Some elderly residents who suffer from a fall tend to have an overall decline in physical and emotional health, which requires nursing homes to ensure that they uphold their responsibility and duty to elderly residents to prevent falls from those who suffer from muscle weakness.
Nursing Home Negligence
Nursing homes have a policy that every resident should receive a personalized plan of care that will directly address any medical, physical, or emotional needs of that senior resident. If any muscle weakness or muscle loss appears on that plan of care, then the resident should always receive proper nutrition, hydration, and if appropriate, exercise in order to attempt to mitigate any additional muscle weakness or loss.
If a nursing home has knowledge that a nursing home resident has muscle weakness or loss of muscle mass, making it difficult to rise from their bed or wheelchair or going to the bathroom by themselves, the nursing home should continually monitor them in order to assist them with these activities. If a nursing home facility fails to assist a resident in daily tasks that they need help with, they may bear liability for such negligence.
Consider a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
If you believe that your elderly loved one fell in a nursing home and suffered injuries or death due to their muscle weakness, they may have suffered as a victim of nursing home abuse or nursing home neglect. Your elderly loved one deserved to receive assistance according to their personalized care plan. Contact a nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer at the Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 to help you determine your loved one’s legal rights and potentially hold the liable parties accountable for their actions.