Falls - What are Common Causes of Falls in Nursing Homes?
Every year, more than one out of every four elderly people experience a fall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The risk of falls rises as a person ages, and many people who live in nursing homes have additional health conditions that can lead to falls. Older adults fall in their homes as well but at rates half that of nursing home residents.
Falls can cause serious injuries, and interventions to prevent falls are important. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are understaffed. That makes the risk of residents falling even higher because residents do not have the support they need. If residents are not being watched, and any medical issues they have are not being treated appropriately, they will be more likely to fall.
Typical Injuries from Nursing Home Falls
When someone is injured in a nursing home fall, that injury often leads to chronic problems, additional falls, and reduced quality of life. Hip fractures are among the most common injuries, but they are not the only ones. Many other types of injuries can occur when an elderly person falls in a nursing home. These injuries can include:
- Head injuries
- Back injuries
- Broken bones
- Abrasions and lacerations
- Feelings of helplessness
The decline in physical and mental health that comes from fall-related injuries is worth noting. Fall prevention is the right choice to reduce these serious issues, but many nursing homes don’t implement enough changes to mitigate the majority of risk factors. As the elderly population grows, the risk of nursing home falls and the serious injuries these falls cause will be on the rise.
Common Causes of Falls in High-Risk Groups
With falls taking place so often in nursing homes, it is important to realize that there are several reasons that these falls keep occurring. By getting to the root of the issue, and addressing the biggest causes of nursing home falls, many of these falls can be reduced or eliminated.
There are several common causes of falls in a nursing facility. While falls can occur for reasons other than these, addressing the biggest causes will have the greatest impact. Among the most common reasons for elderly people to fall in nursing homes are:
- Medical conditions
- Environmental hazards
- Poor lighting
- Wet floors
Even though these causes of falls are not the only ones, they are the most commonly addressed when it comes to prevention strategies. With the right strategies, most people who work in nursing homes can help their elderly residents protect themselves from falls more easily.
The nursing home staff is charged with the duty of protecting loved ones, especially when they know there is an increased risk of falling. Because resident falls are so common in assisted living facilities and other nursing care locations, staff members need to create a care plan for each patient that helps reduce the risk of brain injury, damage to the central nervous system, and other serious issues.
How can nursing home staff reduce resident fall risks?
Reducing the fall risk for every patient in long-term care facilities is extremely important. One of the ways that can be done is through exercise programs that target issues such as muscle weakness. Helping patients become stronger and steadier as part of their overall health care can reduce patient falls and keep residents safer.
Another option for those patients who simply cannot move safely on their own is the use of physical restraints. These restraints can bring a risk of misuse, though, especially if they are used as a way to keep patients from moving around at all so staff members won’t have to watch out for them.
Bed rails can also be useful. Using rails is not as physically restrictive as restraints, but they can still keep the resident’s risk of falling lower. However, keeping patients confined to their beds increases the risk of social isolation in an already vulnerable age group, which may cause mental health issues and a decline in physical health as well.
Proper staffing, walking aids, and handrails all provide ways for a nursing home to experience fewer residents falling. With enough staff to watch residents more closely, fewer of them will be walking unattended. Proper walking aids, such as canes and walkers, also help residents who may not be steady on their feet.
Additionally, having handrails throughout the nursing home or long-term care facility reduces the chances of falling because handrails provide a resident with an opportunity to steady themselves. While there are ways to work on improving balance, the goal is to make sure residents who still struggle with balance have the support they need to fall far less frequently.
Is your loved one the victim of nursing home abuse?
If your loved one has experienced one or more falls in a nursing home or similar care facility, you may want to speak with a personal injury attorney about your options. Taking care of a family member who is in this situation is very important, and many nursing home patients are not in a position to advocate for themselves.
Not all falls are due to nursing home abuse or neglect. There are many reasons why a nursing home resident may fall, and some of those reasons are out of the staff’s control. However, given the vulnerability of the elderly population in nursing homes, staff members must be focused on harm reduction.
A risk assessment to consider a resident’s fear of falling, the resident’s ability to move around safely, and the quality of the care they are receiving can go a long way toward helping them have a better life. Working with a law firm that handles geriatrics allows you to get the help and support you and your family members deserve.
Take Action Against Nursing Home Falls Today
Taking action is important to help protect your loved one and other nursing home residents from the risk of falls. Nursing home abuse and neglect are all too common, and one symptom of it is an increased number of falls. If you see that your family member has bruises or other injuries, or if you are frequently notified that your loved one has fallen, it may be time to reach out for help.
Even the first time your loved one falls in a nursing home, you may want to make sure that the fall was not due to abusive or neglectful practices. If you suspect that your family member is not receiving the quality of care they deserve, fill out our form. We can help you learn your rights and understand whether compensation may be available for any injuries your loved one suffered in a nursing home fall.
Dr. Patricia Shelton, MD
Dr. Patricia Shelton, MD, is a medical content creator. She holds a Doctor of Medicine degree and a Bachelors degree in neuroscience, both from the University of Washington in Seattle. Her career is now focused around medical communications. She primarily writes content for health-related websites, but has also written test prep materials, white papers, court documents, and more. She also teaches anatomy and physiology at the college level for the National Institutes of Health, as well as at the general public level in yoga teacher training programs. Her book, The Yoga Doctor, was published in 2015.