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Are serious falls just part of aging or a sign of neglect?

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2024 | Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect

elderly woman fell on floor

Getting older inspires certain safety concerns. Older adults often find that they are not as strong as they were when they were younger. A decrease in immune system function is also common. People become more susceptible to infectious diseases and may take longer to heal from physical injuries as they age.

Therefore, the prospect of falling is a significant concern for those over the age of 55. Someone who falls might be more likely to break a bone and to have a hard time recovering from that injury. Families often move vulnerable older adults into nursing homes after a fall to prevent further injury.

Hearing from a nursing home that a loved one fell can be a disconcerting experience. Especially when someone has significant injuries after falling, family members may question whether or not the nursing home is to blame for the incident. Is a fall all but inevitable as someone grows older, or is it a sign of neglect at a nursing home?

Falls are predictable and are, therefore, usually preventable

The possibility of an older adult falling is a well-known risk. Nursing homes should evaluate incoming new residents to determine their risk level for certain common types of injuries, including falls. They should then structure the support that someone receives according to their risk levels. Providing someone with a walker and ensuring that they have support when they need to groom themselves or head to dining facilities can reduce their risk of a fall.

If workers at a nursing home do not respond to a resident’s request for help in a timely fashion, they might attempt to handle certain tasks on their own. Workers should be attentive to all residents’ needs but may need to prioritize responding more quickly to those with elevated fall risk.

Residents may require reevaluation annually or after any major medical incident that might increase their personal risk of a fall. The failure to properly evaluate and support an older adult could potentially constitute negligence. If a reasonable person might agree with the assertion that a nursing home was negligent in a situation that involved someone falling and suffering major injuries, then legal action could be an option.