Unfortunately, falls are all too common for the senior population. Falls can lead to numerous medical complications and injuries. Read on to learn more about the prevalence of senior falls and fall prevention.
All employees of nursing homes and assisted living facilities should be trained in fall prevention. They should also know how to handle them when they happen. Being aware of the risks for older individuals is important for both preventing and addressing accidents quickly.
Senior Slip and Fall Statistics
Slip and falls and trip and fall accidents are a serious concern for caregivers as well as residents in senior living and assisted living communities.More than 15,000 elderly Americans die as a result of slip and falls each year.
One-fifth of these accidents happen inside nursing homes. In total, two million individuals will be treated in emergency rooms annually as a result of slip and fall accidents.
The costs of slip and fall accidents for elderly individuals are significant. More than $34 billion annually is spent on slip and fall injuries, with hospital costs making up two-thirds of this total.
Falls may also be associated with other serious injuries. For example, falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
One of the most frustrating aspects of many slip and fall accidents is that many of them could be prevented. Peeling carpets or torn materials pose major threats to older individuals, but slippery floors can be just as dangerous. Any assisted living facility should thoroughly explore all potential options for preventing slip and fall accidents. When these incidents occur, it can be difficult for an elderly individual to recover, and they can also generate further medical costs.
It is in the best interests for all employees and facility managers to look for all opportunities to improve safety as this contributes directly to the health and wellness of residents inside the facility.
Preventing Senior Falls
Increased safety measures are critical for seniors because falls and their associated injuries can impact them more negatively than younger individuals. Unwanted and problematic health complications may result when an elderly individual slips and falls. Fall prevention is critical because it is more challenging for seniors to recover from a slip and fall accident. It can take a senior weeks or months to recover fully from a slip and fall accident.
In the worst case scenarios, he or she may sustain fatal injuries or struggle to retain normal mobility after the accident. Fall supervision and fall prevention are some of the most beneficial strategies for preventing slip and fall accidents, but employees should also be able to respond quickly to slip and fall accidents when they do happen.
Seniors must be able to maintain a daily routine and have access to emergency response in the event that a fall does occur. Families who are looking into assisted living options for their elderly loved ones should make sure that a facility has enhanced safety options throughout, including exterior locations.
Situations That Can Cause Seniors to Fall
Anytime body movement shifts from the center of balance, a slip and fall accident can happen. Slips frequently occur as a result of slippery walking surfaces or too little friction between the footwear and that walking surface. A trip, however, usually involves a foot colliding with another object or unevenness in the floor surface.
Some of the most problematic causes of slip and fall accidents for the elderly include floors that were not properly designed for seniors or bathrooms, which are hazardous in nature. Selecting flooring for a given space should always be made after carefully considering the intended users.
Individuals in a senior living facility are at greater risk of slip and fall accidents, so selecting the right flooring material can make a big difference. Individuals in senior living facilities may choose a variety of footwear options. Some may choose leather or smooth soles, which are a slipping hazard, and others may select rubber-soled shoes.
Additionally, individuals living in a senior living facility will often use assistive devices like canes, scooters, wheelchairs, and walkers, which also adds to the discussion about selecting the right flooring material.
Bathrooms pose serious risks for elderly individuals because they are one of the most hazardous areas used on a daily basis. They are frequently not enhanced for senior safety and do not have appropriate non-stick flooring or tiles, grab handles, or other essential safety enhancements. Having these safety enhancements in place in any senior assisted living facility or at home helps to reduce the chances of a slip and fall accident.
Complications Associated with Senior Falls
As is mentioned above, it can be more difficult for elderly individuals to recover from a slip and fall accident due to their age and other health conditions. Bed sores are some of the most common issues associated with individuals who have sustained a slip and fall injury.
If the assisted living facility or nursing home facility does not regularly check on your loved one after he or she is unable to move from a slip and fall accident, bedsores can result. These can be extremely painful and cause other medical complications like infections.
Muscle atrophy is another concern for elderly individuals. Slip and fall accidents can make it very challenging for an elderly individual to regain mobility or to rebuild muscle. This could even lead to your loved one having to use a wheelchair temporarily or even permanently.
Making sure that medical staff is aware of the complications of slip and fall accidents can help to prevent these kinds of avoidable complications. A fall could even lead to hospitalization as a result of a traumatic injury. Since traumatic brain injuries are so common with slip and fall accidents, medical personnel should be fully trained on evaluating individuals for head injuries.
Fall Prevention Planning
Individuals can create a fall prevention plan by setting an appointment with a doctor. This conversation might include questions like:
- Have you fallen in the past?
- Could your health conditions put you at increased risk for a fall?
- What medications are you taking?
Seniors should also wear sensible shoes, remove hazards from their home, keep moving, and use assistive devices where necessary.
Some of the most beneficial assistive devices include:
- Raised toilet seats with armrests
- Grab bars for the tub or shower
- Handrails for the stairways
- Non-slip treads for wooden steps
- Electronic devices to notify emergency services if a loved one has already slipped and fallen
Having a slip and fall prevention plan is one of the best ways to minimize the number of injuries and individuals impacted by slip and fall accidents. Since the elderly are at such high risk for falls to begin with, and may experience an array of complicated medical issues, being aware of these concerns and preparing in advance can go a long way toward preventing accidents that cause further medical complications.
Treat Falls After They Happen
Although all healthcare facilities should be primarily concerned about fall prevention in slip accidents for seniors, understanding what to do immediately after a fall has happened can help minimize the complications that a patient experiences.
A patient should be thoroughly evaluated after a slip and fall injury to ensure that he or she is not suffering from more complicated problems like a concussion or a traumatic brain injury. An individual who slips and falls may hit his or her head on surrounding objects or on the floor. Many of the symptoms of a head injury may not be readily apparent, but it can be essential to identify these sooner rather than later so that the patient can be put on the appropriate course of treatment.
The patient should also be monitored for several days after the accident happens to ensure he or she is not developing any further symptoms or issues that could indicate a severe injury. After the patient has been immediately treated, the individuals responsible should evaluate the causes of the accident. For example, it could be important to identify whether or not there were any obstacles like a slick floor, raised carpet, or broken steps that caused the individual to fall. These obstacles could lead to multiple accidents, but they can be prevented with quick remediation.
Since fall prevention is the most important component of handling slip and fall accidents for the elderly, it is crucial that an individual appointed in charge of safety within a healthcare or elderly facility be aware of these challenges and constantly search for opportunities to improve. Small improvements in floor surfaces, such as adding strips to help individuals have better grip, can help to minimize the potential for accidents, thus preventing falls and keeping facility and medical costs down.