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How frequently do nursing home residents fall?

For many families, an older loved one may require more care than can be provided at home. Other older adults are simply not able to care for themselves any longer. There are over 1.4 million people who are 65 or older who currently live in a nursing home. Should the current rate of admittance to nursing homes continue, there will be around 30 million in nursing homes by 2030.

About 1,800 older adults who live in nursing homes pass away from injuries related to falls. The people who survive the falls often experience a reduction in their quality of life as well as permanent disability.

Many falls that are suffered by nursing home residents aren’t reported. One hundred to 200 falls are reported on average by nursing homes that have 100 beds. Many patients fall repeatedly, with the average resident falling 2.6 times a year.

For many residents, simply the fear of falling can cause feelings of social isolation and helplessness, depression, disability, reduced quality of life and functional decline. The most common causes of falls in nursing homes include walking problems or muscle weakness (24 percent), environmental hazards such as poor lighting or wet floors (16 to 27 percent), medications, poor foot care and incorrect or improper use of walking aids.

Fall prevention needs to be implemented at the patient, staff and organizational levels. The staff needs to be educated on prevention strategies as well as fall risk factors. Patients should be assessed for fall risks, including if their medications could contribute to a fall.

Those who have had a loved one suffer because of a fall in a nursing home may wonder if they have any grounds for a civil action. An experienced attorney can provide advice and guidance about whether a civil case would be viable.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Falls in Nursing Homes,” accessed May. 20, 2015

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