According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,800 elderly nursing home residents die every year due to fall-related injuries. Those who survive, it reports, sustain injuries that cause permanent disability and a lower quality of life. The CDC further states that although only 5 percent of people aged 65 or older live in U.S. nursing homes, they account for around 20 percent of deaths associated with falls in the same age group.
Between 50 and 75 percent of senior nursing home residents fall at least once every year. This is twice the rate of falls seen in seniors who live in the community. Many patients fall more than once, with an average of 2.6 falls per person every year. Around 35 percent of those injured by falling in these circumstances are not mobile. Additionally, up to 20 percent of falls in nursing homes result in serious injuries. A Chicago negligence lawyer often sees fall victims who experience severe psychological problems after a fall, including depression, social isolation and feelings of helplessness.
Conditions affecting rates of falls
Many patients living in nursing homes and other assisted living facilities are very sick and frail. They may be unable to move as easily as others their age due to chronic conditions. Additionally, they often have cognitive or memory problems that may place them at higher risk for falls. However, none of these conditions fully account for the 100 percent increase in fall rates seen in nursing homes compared to those within the general community.
A Chicago negligence lawyer understands that most nursing home falls occur due to a combination of patient and facility factors, including the following:
- Muscle weakness or walking problems for residents.
- Environmental hazards such as wet floors, inadequate lighting or defective medical equipment.
- Use of medications that affect the central nervous system, including sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs.
- Difficulty moving from one surface to another, such as from bed to chair.
Poorly fitted shoes, inadequate foot care and incorrect use of walking aids can also cause falls.
Protecting loved ones
Fall prevention programs can include the patient, caregivers and the faculties in which they live and work. Education is always the first step in preventing any kind of nursing home accident, so nursing homes should always provide educational resources for staff and patients so they know what and what not to do. Changes to the home itself can greatly reduce falls among residents by allowing them to move around more easily. This includes installing handrails and grab bars in hallways and bathrooms.
Those whose loved ones have been injured by falling in nursing homes may be able to receive compensation for their injuries. Injured residents and their loved ones should contact a Chicago negligence lawyer immediately.