You visit your mother in her Georgia nursing home, and she tells you something that alarms you.
“I fell walking to the bathroom, but I’m OK,” she says.
She was OK this time, but what about next time? What is the nursing home doing to protect her?
That’s a valid question to ask. According to the National Council on Aging, every 11 seconds a senior enters an emergency room because of a fall. Even more alarming: A senior dies every 19 minutes from a fall.
Every nursing home should have a plan to address fall management. The fear of falling leads seniors to limit what they do and reduce their interaction with others, and that can lead to both physical and emotional decline, such as depression, as well as isolation.
The nursing home plan should, at its core, including a way to identify the residents who are most likely to fall and alert staff to monitor them more closely. Those who are most likely to fall include those who have fallen before, those with dementia or another cognitive impairment or those with diabetes. Women also are more likely to fall.
The nursing home also can be proactive by beginning a workout program, which has been shown to decrease injuries by falls.
Falls can be debilitating for a senior both physically and financially. The National Council on Aging said the financial cost for older adults could be as much as $67.7 million this year.
If you haven’t asked before, ask the administrator at your parent’s nursing home how residents are monitored for falls. Inquire about a written plan and ask for statistics on falls. If there is no plan, that could be a sign of nursing home neglect.