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The Rohrstaff Law Firm

The Rohrstaff Law Firm

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Falls in nursing homes happen, but whose fault is it? Check to be sure the staff is correctly trained and is present in adequate numbers.

You have probably fallen down hundreds of times during your life. Maybe you even broke a bone when you fell. It happens to all of us. But when it happens to our elderly loved ones, the result can be devastating.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1,800 older adults living in nursing homes die each year from injuries related to falls. And those older adults who suffer falls but do not die often find their quality of life greatly diminished.

People who live in nursing homes are often more frail than older adults living in the community. They have more chronic conditions, and usually have difficulty walking and problems with thinking and memory. Most falls suffered by residents in nursing home are caused by weak muscle and walking or gait problems. Many residents have difficulty moving from the bed to a chair. Many using walking aids (such as canes) and use them improperly, and many take medications that affect the central nervous system.

The population in nursing homes have the highest risk for falls and also suffer the severest injuries from those falls. But that's no excuse for the high number of fatal and non-fatal falls that happen in our nursing homes every year. Rather, it ought to be inspire more diligence and care for our elderly adults in nursing homes.

Take note that the Centers for Disease Control National Center for Injury Prevention and Control web site cites studies that conclude that restraints do not lower the risk of falls, and that they can actually increase the risk of fall-related injuries and death.

Just because an elderly resident falls does not mean that the nursing home was negligent. Falls happen. Nursing homes know that falls can happen, so when a resident is admitted to a nursing home, a fall-risk assessment is performed. There is no way to prevent all falls, but it is possible to prevent many falls. Many falls that occur in nursing homes could have been prevented with adequate staffing. Even if a nursing home has a bed alarm, a motion sensor, a sound monitor, and a perimeter mattress-all functioning properly-if the facility is understaffed and there is no staff to pay attention to the devices installed to alert them to danger, an elderly resident can fall and be seriously injured or die.

Be sure your elderly loved one's nursing home is adequately staffed. At all times. Especially at night.

Sandra Rohrstaff
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Virginia Child Injury and Elder Abuse Attorney