There are many different physical issues associated with aging that contribute to an older adult’s increased risk for a fall. People tend to lose both strength and flexibility as they get older. Combine that with slower reaction times, vision issues that may prevent someone from noticing something in their path that poses a risk and the confusion or forgetfulness that can come with cognitive decline, and you have a perfect recipe for a terrible fall.
In any given year, roughly one in four older adults (age 65 or older) will experience a fall. According to the National Council on Aging, that means that every 11 seconds, an older adult has to seek emergency treatments for injuries relating to a fall. How common and dangerous falls actually are for older adults can be a reason why people choose to place a loved one in a nursing home.
Family members want to help their loved ones avoid a fall and might assume that nursing home or hospital staff will do whatever is necessary to keep their loved ones safe. Unfortunately, older adults do fall in hospitals and nursing homes every day across the country.
Inadequate staff can put pressure on nursing home residents
It can be hard to imagine what life is like as you get older and lose the independence and mobility that you prize as an adult. However, if you can imagine becoming totally dependent on the help of someone else for everything from getting dressed in the morning to going to the bathroom, you can at least begin to understand how it feels to have reduced mobility while in an assisted living facility.
When there isn’t enough staff to get to people in a quick and timely manner, older adults may try to do things on their own that they need help with. If staff members don’t respond to a request for assistance within a few minutes, for example, someone who has to go to the bathroom may try to make that short trip on their own.
Nursing homes have an obligation to provide an adequate standard of care for their residents. Not having enough staff to allow people to use the bathroom, get out of bed or get dressed when they need to is a red flag that puts older adults at unnecessary levels of risk.
You should take action after an inpatient fall situation
Whether your loved one is at a rehabilitative hospital or a nursing home, if they fall while there, you need to take the issue seriously. Look into the levels of staff at the time of the fall and find out from your loved one and other people present want happened. Do not rely on the facility’s official version of events.
In some cases, you may need to locate a different facility for your loved one. Other times, you will want to take legal action against a nursing home, or file a medical malpractice or neglect claim to hold them accountable and offset the expenses their neglect cause your family.