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How do you prevent fall-related nursing home deaths?

Falls, like slips and slides, can be amusing to younger Pennsylvanians. However, for the elderly, who are more fragile, falls can be a matter of life and death. Besides being more careful, elderly people should be guided by their loved ones in order to prevent falls and other accidents. When it comes to caring for the elderly, Pennsylvanians often think of nursing homes to help them care for their elderly loved ones. However, figures show that fall-related nursing home deaths are becoming a common problem.

Are falls in nursing homes a serious problem? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they are a very serious problem. Approximately 1,800 nursing home residents die annually because of falls. Of the residents who survive a fall, approximately 20 percent will have to deal with serious injuries. An elderly person often deals with disability, decline of mobility and a reduced quality of life after surviving a fall.

How can falls be prevented in nursing homes? The CDC advises nursing homes to coordinate three important practices to prevent falls: rehabilitation, environmental changes and medical treatment. This can be done by identifying the risk factors of a patient's medical condition and reviewing potential risks of prescribed medicines. Training and educating the nursing home staff about prevention techniques and risk factors is essential as well. Physical adjustments in the institution, such as placing grab bars, lower beds, raised toilets and hallway handrails can help to prevent falls.

What can Pennsylvanians do in case a loved one dies in a nursing home after falling? Relatives, with the help of authorities and a legal professional, can determine if there was negligence on the part of the nursing home. Relatives can file a legal action in response to the death as well as in cases of suspected nursing home abuse.

Source: CDC. Gov, "Falls in Nursing Homes," Accessed on Sep. 15, 2014

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