Deciding to place an aging loved one in a nursing home is often difficult, and so is selecting a home where you believe that your loved one is going to receive a high level of care. If you are like many others who came before you, you may have decided to move your loved one into a nursing home because you had concerns about his or her mobility. However, it may alarm you to learn just how common falls are in American nursing home environments.
According to Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, falls now account for about 36% of all preventable emergency room visits among the elderly, with the typical U.S. nursing home reporting between about 100 and 200 falls every year. This number refers only to the falls that nursing home staff members formally report, though, so the actual number of older adults falling and hurting themselves each year in nursing homes may be significantly higher.
While the fact that most nursing homes report hundreds of falls every year is concerning, so, too, are the statistics regarding older adults falling in nursing homes versus falling at home alone or while living with loved ones. Research shows that older adults 65 or older are four times more likely to succumb to injuries suffered during a fall than older adults who live alone or with loved ones. Furthermore, up to three-quarters of American nursing home residents fall at least once a year, which is more than double the rate experienced by those within the same age group who live in other settings.
Many seniors who fall suffer serious, and in some cases, potentially life-threatening, injuries. In fact, between 10% and 20% of nursing home falls result in injuries considered “extremely serious.” Even when falls do not result in serious injuries, they may affect the person who falls by making her or him less mobile, less social and more fearful of potentially falling again.
If you harbor concerns about your older loved one’s risk of falling, ask administrators at his or her nursing home what they are doing to help prevent falls among residents.