Is Your Loved One’s Nursing Home Doing Enough to Prevent Falls?
September 21 – September 25 is Fall Prevention Awareness Week, and here at Mike Brandner Injury Attorneys, we’re highlighting the importance of fall prevention in nursing homes across Louisiana.
According to the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence, falls are the number one cause of injury deaths, unintended injuries, and traumatic hospital admissions in older adults.
Older adults who live alone are at a higher risk, but those who live in assisted living or nursing homes may also suffer slip and fall injuries, especially if there aren’t enough caretakers in the facility or the premises are unsafe.
During these times, it may be difficult or downright impossible to spend time with your aging loved ones due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For this reason, now is a good time to talk to your loved one’s nursing home about what fall prevention strategies they use and how they might be improved. Find out more with this guide from Mike Brander Injury Attorneys.
Fall Prevention in Nursing Homes
Preventing older adult falls requires a different approach than regular slip and fall prevention. Nursing homes, assisted living, and other long-term care providers should have a dynamic safety plan in place to protect residents from these kinds of injuries.
Fall Risk Assessments
A good fall prevention strategy starts with a fall risk assessment with each resident at a long-term care facility. This should be done as soon as your loved one moves in to make sure they have the care, supervision, and resources they need from day one.
One study published in the Annals of Long-Term Care recommends the following six tools for assessing fall risks:
- 30 Second Chair-Stand Test
- 4-Stage Balance Test
- Berg Functional Balance Scale
- Falls Efficacy Scale
- Timed Get Up and Go Test
- Tinetti Assessment Tool
Mitigating Fall Risks
Knowing that someone is at an increased risk for falls is not enough. Nursing home staff must also create a plan to mitigate the risk of falls for each resident in their care. Falls are not usually caused by just one factor (rather, an extensive list of interacting physical, cognitive, and environmental contributors). What may be a good fall prevention plan for one resident may not be ideal for another.
Understanding the potential and most likely causes of falls in each patient can be highly effective in fall prevention. This means a thorough history should be taken of your loved one, including not only their medical history, but also their social and psychological background, which can impact fall risk.
Identifying and Preventing Syncope
Syncope, more commonly known as fainting, is a commonly overlooked cause of falls. This is because many older adults will not remember fainting, but will report that they simply fell. Syncope is a common condition among older adults, often caused by underlying medical conditions, a side effect of many medications, or because they sit or stand up too quickly.
Good Diet and Vitamin Supplementation
Certain vitamin deficiencies are common in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. For example, residents who don’t spend a lot of time in the sun may develop Vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D is crucial in the production of calcium, which helps reduce osteoporosis and loss of muscle mass, both of which can contribute to falls.
Talk to your loved one’s nursing home about their eating habits and ask about adding supplements to their diet if needed.
Providing Appropriate Safety Gear
Fall prevention in nursing homes has as much to do with the environment as it does with each resident’s health and wellness. Nursing homes are responsible for ensuring the safety of the facility, a legal concept known as premises liability. In addition, they should also provide residents with safety gear to help mitigate any inherent fall risks. For example, residents should be given properly-fitted slip-resistant footwear that matches their level of mobility. Helmets and hip protectors may also be appropriate for some residents.
Physical Therapy & Exercise
Is your loved one given adequate time and supervision to exercise? Staying as active as possible is crucial in maintaining balance and coordination and preventing falls. Nursing homes should offer physical therapy and exercise for all levels of mobility, making sure that residents have the opportunity to stay active.
Identifying Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
If you suspect your loved one’s nursing home fall prevention strategies may be lacking, you may contact your local Long-Term Care Ombudsman through the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs. Ombudsmen are responsible for protecting the rights of residents in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. They handle complaints regarding safety, quality of care, and other resident concerns.
Frequent falls, other injuries like bruises or broken bones, malnutrition, and depression can all be warning signs of nursing home neglect. It may be difficult to keep tabs on your loved ones when you can’t visit in person, but stay in contact as much as possible and check in with them frequently via phone calls, texting, or video chats.
Compensation for Victims of Nursing Home Abuse
Elderly or disabled persons who suffer injury or wrongful death because of abuse or neglect may be entitled to compensation in a civil case against their negligent caretakers. Contact a nursing home abuse lawyer at Mike Brandner Injury Attorneys to explore all your legal options. Our experienced personal injury firm has a proven track record of successful case results for victims of negligence and their families.
Call us today at one of the numbers below, connect with one of our LiveChat agents, or request your free case review online. We are available around the clock, whenever you need us the most. Plus, we don’t charge you a penny unless we make a recovery on your behalf.
The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.