Slip and Fall Accidents Among the Elderly and in Nursing Homes Are All Too Common
Generally speaking, nursing homes are responsible for fall injuries as the facilities have a legal duty to prevent falls. When a nursing home fails to implement a fall prevention plan or take safety precautions and a patient is hurt from a fall, they have breached their legal duty and can be sued for negligence. In these instances, it’s important to consult with an attorney who can evaluate liability and pursue your compensation options.
Understanding the Dangers of Nursing Home Falls
The elderly are much more susceptible to falling, and the injuries caused by these falls are much more serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “[e]ach year, millions of older people—those 65 and older—fall. In fact, more than one out of four older people falls each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.” The CDC also offers these statistics:
- Each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.
- More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
Falls among the elderly is a serious problem. Many elderly people are simply too embarrassed to seek medical help, not wanting to appear “clumsy.” It’s up to close family members to monitor the health of their elderly family members and either get them in-house assistance or place them in elder living facilities.
Liability of Nursing Homes After a Fall
According to the Nursing Home Abuse Center (NHAC), citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “between 50-75% of nursing home residents fall each year. This is twice the rate at which other older adults fall when living outside of nursing homes.” Slip and falls are very common in nursing homes. The problem is, there should be very few because nursing homes have a legal duty to prevent them.
One of the classic defenses nursing homes use when a patient falls and is consequently injured is to downplay the incident, claiming that falls are to be expected because of the residents’ ages. Or, they may claim that any injuries are not as bad as they appear to be. Nonetheless, state and federal regulations disagree. Patient falls are not meant to be a fact of nursing home life. Without an effective fall prevention plan in place, nursing homes and other care facilities may indeed be liable for injuries caused by falls and should be held accountable.
What Causes So Many Falls Among the Elderly?
There is a specific reason or set of reasons for each fall, but some of the more common causes of falls among the elderly include:
- Weakness and balance. Many of the elderly have poor balance and may be too weak to protect themselves during a fall.
- Chronic conditions. A wide variety of chronic ailments can cause falling, such as heart disease, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and Parkinson’s.
- Impaired vision. Eye and sight conditions, such as glaucoma and cataracts can alter depth perception, visual acuity, peripheral vision, and susceptibility to glare.
- Home hazards. If the elderly choose to stay at home even when they arguably should be in an assisted living facility, the home is likely filled with falling hazards.
- Medication. Various types of drugs, such as sedatives and antidepressants, adversely affect balance, and mental alertness, and cause drops in blood pressure while standing. Mixing certain medications increases these effects, causing even more falls.
Protecting Your Loved Ones From Slips and Falls in Nursing Homes
Public health practitioners, senior service providers, clinicians, and, of course, family members can all take action to help prevent the ones we love from experiencing a catastrophic injury related to a fall. Even with the best intentions, it is possible for someone to injure themselves. Some actions that may prevent serious falls include:
- Balance and coordination exercises, including modified Tai Chi exercises, practice in stepping and in changing direction, dance steps, and catching and throwing a ball.
- Strengthening exercises, including exercises that used the participant’s weight (e.g., sit-to-stand, wall press-ups) and resistance-band exercises that work both the upper and lower limbs.
- Aerobic exercises, including fast-walking practice with changes in pace and direction.
When you speak with the attorneys at Parker & Parker we can help determine if the nursing home or other facility is responsible for the fall. Your consultation with our team is free and there is no obligation to call and learn about your legal rights.
Speak with a Slip and Fall Lawyer Familiar with Falls in Nursing Homes
Some nursing home slip and fall victims may lack the mental ability to even take the first steps toward legal action. In these cases, it falls upon family members or other loved ones to start the process. Contact an experienced elderly slip and fall attorney at Parker & Parker today if a loved one has been injured in a nursing home slip and fall accident. There is no obligation to call and learn about your legal rights to determine if our law firm can be of assistance.