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Falls in nursing homes: A risk to residents

An elderly person who enters a nursing home may already be at a higher risk of falls due to imbalances. Medications taken may make them dizzy or lightheaded, which can also lead to unexpected falls. Combined with weakness, bad knees or other factors, there's no wonder why so many people fall in nursing homes.

For the most part, falls happen a single time. That first fall lets the people around an elder understand they need more help. After all, falls are normal for anyone from time to time. However, there are scenarios when falls shouldn't be accepted as normal. For instance, if your loved one was walking on a pathway and slipped on misplaced gravel, the nursing home could be liable for failing to maintain a safe walkway.

Nursing homes have to take steps to reduce falls

Did you know that 10 to 25 percent of falls among the elderly who are in institutionalized care result in lacerations, fractures or a need for emergency care? It's true. It's important that nursing home staff members do all they can to prevent falls. Of course, it's impossible to prevent them all, but preventing as many as possible is key to a safer environment for the elderly.

What should nursing home patients do to prevent falls?

The primary concern is that some nursing home patients don't use their call buttons to reach the nursing station. If they need to move from one place to another in a room, go to the bathroom or get into a wheelchair, for example, then they should place a call and wait for the nurse to arrive. If a nurse does not come and a resident falls, then that is a serious cause for concern.

Other falls might occur because of medication interactions and dehydration. It's important for family members and residents to know how medications impact the elderly patient and to take steps to prevent falls in relation to those medications. For instance, if you know the medication makes your loved one very thirsty, don't place the individual's water glass out of reach from where they are. If they have to overextend or get up to get to it, they'll be at a higher risk of falling.

These are a few concerns to keep in mind about elderly falls. Many are preventable with the right care, but it's up to everyone to be cautious.

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