Many people expect that, since nursing homes are typically staffed with aides and nurses, residents of such facilities are not at risk of falling and suffering serious injury or death. That is not the case, however. According to the National Council on Aging, falls are among the leading causes of death for people in Alabama over the age of 79. Depending on the circumstances, failing to prevent such falls, and the resultant injuries or deaths, can be considered nursing home negligence. In order to help ensure that they, and their loved ones are protected, it can help people to understand why these types of accidents happen in nursing homes and what steps they can take to help prevent their loved ones from falling.
There are numerous factors, which contribute to the increased danger for falls among nursing home residents. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, while most older adults have at least some risk level of falling, people who are living in nursing homes are often more frail, and they can have muscle weakness, difficulty walking and other mobility issues. Additionally, chronic medical conditions, as well as memory problems and certain medications, can also increase the risk of falls among nursing home residents. Environmental hazards that may be present in nursing homes, such as poor lighting, wet floors, and improperly maintained balance or mobility equipment, can further increase the risk for residents.
While it is generally the responsibility of nursing facility staff to ensure that residents have the assistance they need to avoid falling, there are also steps that family members, and residents themselves, can take to help reduce the risk of a fall. These can include requesting modifications, such as grab bars, to help improve mobility and safety, as well as making sure that wheelchairs and other assistive devices are properly fitted and maintained, making sure that residents know how to use the call bell to get assistance, and removing any rugs or other items that might obstruct walkways. Furthermore, family members may consider discussing with their loved ones' health care providers whether physical therapy or other rehabilitation might improve the residents' mobility.
Although accidents happen, many nursing home falls can, and should, be prevented. People who feel that their loved ones may have fallen as a result of negligence may find it helpful to discuss their options with a legal professional.