Broken bones present particular risks for the elderly population. It is important for those working in a nursing home to take precautions to protect residents from the possibility of falls, reducing the likelihood of a fracture.
Although falls account for several fractures (broken bones) in nursing homes, some residents could also suffer a broken bone from a repetitive stress injury, such as from an attack from another resident or from abuse at the hands of staff members.
Dangers of Broken Bones for Seniors
According to Best Practices & Research, Clinical Rheumatology, broken bones present greater dangers for seniors due to the likelihood of their injuries worsening into life-threatening conditions. In general, an elderly’s person immune system does not work as it once used to, which can affect their healing time.
If caregivers do not exercise caution when an elderly resident is recuperating from a broken bone, their injury can lead to an infection or sepsis, for example.
Hip Fracture Danger
Among those people age 65 and older, hip fractures are among the most dangerous types of fractures for their long term health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Annually, 300,000 senior citizens require hospitalization after a hip fracture.
After the broken hip, the victim often needs additional help performing simple day-to-day tasks, potentially being unable to live on their own.
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Preventing Falls and Reducing Fracture Risk
The CDC says more than 95% of hip fractures in adults aged 65 and older occur because of falls. This shows the importance of doing everything possible to reduce the possibility of broken bones for residents.
Some of the behaviors and lifestyle situations that can lead to an increased risk of falls for nursing home residents, according to the CDC, include:
- Alcohol use: A nursing home resident who regularly uses alcohol could have a loss of balance, increasing the risk of a fall.
- Climbing: The senior attempts to climb a ladder or stand on a chair to reach for an item, increasing the risk of a fall if he or she stumbles from the greater height.
- Conditions: The senior citizen has a health condition that increases the possibility of falling, such as dementia, arthritis, or cardiac issues.
- Inactivity: A nursing home resident who does not move for a long time could suffer from dizziness when he or she stands up quickly.
- Medications: Some of the side effects of medications that senior citizens take could create a greater risk of losing their balance.
- Vision problems: The nursing home resident may not be able to see well, meaning he or she does not notice a tripping hazard in the hallway.
- Weakness: Seniors may have general muscle weakness or problems with balance that cause them to have a greater risk of falls.
Nursing home staff members must be on the lookout for these issues. If they know they have residents who suffer from these conditions, the staff members must take steps to give them extra protection.
Taking Steps To Prevent Falls in the Nursing Home
Once the nursing home staff recognizes the possibility of a fall occurring, they should take steps to reduce the risk as much as possible. Some of the ways to reduce fall risk in a nursing home include:
- Removing tripping hazards: Staff members should ensure hallways are clear of boxes or other tripping hazards.
- Providing safety equipment: Nursing home staff should ensure the residents have the equipment they need to walk as safely as possible, whether that involves the use of a walker, a cane, or a wheelchair.
- Installing safety equipment: Staff members can install handrails and non-slip bath mats to reduce the fall risk.
- Adding lighting: The nursing home owners should add lighting to areas that are dark, giving residents a better chance of seeing hazards.
- Helping patients: Staff members should promptly respond to calls for help from residents and help them stand up or move as required.
Failure to eliminate tripping hazards inside the nursing home could be considered an act of negligence.
We Are Ready To Protect the Rights of Your Loved One
Because of the frequency of falls for those aged 65 and over, it is extremely important for nursing home staff to work to protect residents from falls. By reducing the risk of residents falling, staff members also can reduce their possibility of suffering fractures (broken bones) in nursing homes.
Should your loved one’s nursing home staff members fail to provide protection, you and your loved one have the right to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the nursing home.
Understand, though, that negligence is not always easy to prove. The team at Ben Crump Law, PLLC, does not shy away from taking tough cases, and we will fight hard to defend the right of your loved one to receive compensation. Call us today at (800) 959-1444 for a free consultation.