Many older Americans have age-related factors affecting them that make them more prone to falling. Many of them live in facilities that do not always make every effort to prevent resident falls. Together, this can be a deadly combination. If you have a parent or other loved one living in a nursing home or assisted living facility, you may have legitimate cause for concern.
Industrial Safety & Hygiene News reports that about 1,800 nursing home residents across the nation die every year because of fall-related injuries. Additionally, the average American nursing home housing 100 or so residents reports between 100 and 200 resident falls every year. It is important to note, though, that this number refers specifically to the number of falls – suggesting the true figure could be higher.
A high-risk environment for falls
Statistics show that older Americans are significantly more likely to die from injuries sustained during a fall when they live in nursing homes. In fact, those 65 and older who reside in nursing homes are four times more likely than their peers who live with loved ones, or alone at home, to suffer falls that ultimately claim their lives. Just what is it about the nursing home environment that makes it so hazardous?
Environmental factors causing nursing home falls
Estimates suggest that environmental factors cause somewhere between 16 and 27% of all nursing home falls. Environmental factors can include any number of different things, but common examples include poor lighting, insufficient hand railings, slippery floors and so on.
Employee and nursing home negligence often play a role in nursing home falls. Some residents, for example, require assistance to move about or visit the restroom, but understaffing at nursing homes can make it hard for them to get the mobility help they need.
If your loved one lives in a nursing home and you have concerns about fall risks, voice them. It is completely reasonable for you to inquire at a particular facility about what it does to prevent resident falls.