One in three older Americans suffer a fall each year. Falls are also the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries for older individuals. These falls can lead to serious injuries such as hip fractures, head injuries, and other broken bones, which, in turn, may lead to an increasing need for long-term care services. For those individuals who are over the age of 75, falling will result in them being four times more likely to be admitted to a skilled nursing facility. Repeated falls also can lead to a marked decrease in independence, fearfulness about walking or moving about, depression, and difficulties in staying active. Fortunately, there are simple steps that you can take to help the older individuals in your life avoid falls.
Speak to your loved one about falls or fears of falling. Ask what you can do to help remedy that fear and/or make it safer for him or her to remain active while still avoiding falls. If your loved one is experiencing dizziness or problems with balance, then speak with his or her healthcare provider in order to get treatment to minimize those symptoms. A simple medication switch might help alleviate some or all of their symptoms, or physical therapy might help improve balance. In some cases, your loved one might be having difficulties with vision that necessitates a new prescription. All of these steps can decrease the risk of falls in older individuals.
You also can help prevent falls by completing a safety assessment of your loved one’s physical surroundings. Make sure that there are clear paths throughout your loved one’s home and between the different areas of the home. There should be adequate lighting, particularly along staircases, as well as sturdy railings to provide support. Bathrooms should have grab rails near the toilet and tub/shower. A shower chair and handheld shower also can decrease the potential for falls.
Unfortunately, falls can be one sign of nursing home neglect. At Boller & Vaughan, we have investigated countless allegations of nursing home neglect, no matter what type of situation they involve. Allow us to look into the facts and circumstances surrounding your case, discuss your options, and help you determine the most appropriate course of action for you and your family. Contact the Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorneys of Boller & Vaughan, and learn how we can help.