Not Your Typical Elder Law Firm

3 ways nursing homes can reduce the risk of resident falls

On Behalf of | May 26, 2022 | Elder Abuse |

Age affects every person differently, but there are certain common issues that people experience in their seventh decades and beyond. Decreasing bone density and a loss of muscle mass both contribute to people’s likelihood of falling. Especially in cases where people have a shifting center of gravity because they need support when they walk, their risk of falling increases.

Not only is the possibility of taking a tumble higher as people age, but the chances of severe injury, like a comminuted fracture, are also higher. Some older adults move into nursing homes specifically because their family members worry that they will fall or they have already suffered a serious injury in a prior fall.

Nursing homes should recognize the risk of their residents falling and be proactive about preventing such falls. How can nursing homes keep their residents safe?

Have adequate staff on hand

One of the biggest contributing factors to nursing home falls is understaffing. Many nursing homes will keep as few staff members on hand as they legally can. Understaffing is a cost-reduction practice that directly reduces the quality of life that residents have.

When there are only a handful of workers responsible for dozens of dependent older adults, residents may need to wait a long time to go to the bathroom or eat a meal. If they attempt to do these things without support, they could easily fall in a preventable accident.

Provide means of easy communication for residents

Needing to stand up and walk over to the telephone to advise staff that they need assistance is not an ideal solution for an older adult with compromised mobility.

Communication devices built into their beds, next to their favorite chairs or even worn on their bodies will allow for staff members to more quickly respond when a resident needs something and reduce the risk that they will try to manage a task alone but they are not capable of  performing without support. 

Providing the physical therapy and equipment residents need

At many nursing homes, the only goal is to have all the beds full and the operating costs as low as possible, but offering more services can benefit the residents. Having an on-site physical therapist to help people improve their gait or sense of balance could help those prone to falls. So could the use of specialized equipment, like walkers, wheelchairs and canes.

Nursing homes that have adequate staff scheduled, that provide appropriate communication technology and that support older adults trying to maintain their physical mobility can drastically reduce the likelihood of their residents getting hurt. Understanding when a facility’s negligence or cost-cutting may have resulted in your family member’s nursing home fall will help you determine if it is appropriate for you to take legal action.

FindLaw Network