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Why is fall risk so high in nursing homes?

As you age, your body becomes frailer, no matter how healthy your lifestyle, and for many seniors in Georgia, this leads to a fall. The risk isn't the same for every senior, though.

In fact, according to Managed Health Care Connect, people 65 and older who live in nursing homes are twice as likely to fall as those who live in the community, and between 50 and 75 percent of residents fall every year.

No matter how vigilant staff is at the nursing home you choose for yourself or a loved one, there is no way to prevent every fall risk. However, there are many ways to mitigate these risks and improve residents' safety.

Fall assessment

Health conditions play a major role in fall risk, and if you are taking medications, you have osteoporosis, or you have chronic pain, your risk is higher. Before anyone moves into a facility, an assessment should be done that identifies unique risk factors, which may include the following:

  • Mobility, gait and balance issues
  • Joint function
  • Muscle weakness
  • Visual acuity
  • Cognitive function

People who have fallen before are much more likely to fall again. You may think that someone who has a fear of falling will be more cautious, and therefore less likely to fall. However, fear often leads seniors to move less, which in turn causes muscle weakness and bone density loss, increasing the chances of a fall.

All of these factors and others should be included in the assessment so that staff can review it and provide the proper assistance to each resident.

Staffing

In a facility where many residents need assistance with mobility, having enough staff is vital. For example, when no one answers a resident's call button, he or she may decide to get out of a bed or chair and try to get to the bathroom without the necessary help. Adequate staff would include enough professionals to allow them time to review resident fall risks and update records as necessary. 

This information should not be interpreted as legal or medical advice.

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