Tips for Preventing Senior Slip and Fall Injuries

Slip and fall accidents among senior adults can cause significant injuries and even death.  In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of death from injury among adults aged 65 and older.  The CDC goes on to say that, in the same age group, falls are also the leading cause of non-fatal injury and of hospital admission for trauma.  The prevalence of falls among seniors is staggering:  the CDC estimates that one-third of Americans over age 65 fall each year, resulting in emergency room care for more than 2.3 million seniors.  Additionally, more than 20,000 older adults die annually from unintentional fall injuries.  According to the CDC, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the National Safety Council (NSC), and other agencies, most senior falls can be prevented through adequate safety measures. Falls often occur at home, but nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and assisted living centers are also the site of frequent elder falls.  These premises, which are designed for the care of seniors, must take special precautions to prevent the falls of patients and residents.  If a failure to protect against slips, trips, and falls results in a patient's injury or death, the facility may be held accountable through civil litigation.  Personal injury, premises liability, and wrongful death lawsuits may help accident victims and their families obtain financial compensation for injuries sustained as a result of nursing home neglect. Safety measures to prevent senior falls include:

  • Providing well-fitting slip-resistant footwear
  • Installing grab bars in bathrooms
  • Install double handrails on stairways
  • Add non-slip tread to stairs
  • Place non-slip mats in showers and tubs
  • Remove hazards and obstructions, including rugs, from walkways
  • Promptly clean and dry spills or liquid on floors
  • Make sure walkways, hallways, and stairways are well-lit
Hospitals, nursing homes, and skilled care facilities must also be aware of any patient medications that may cause dizziness,  of visual impairments of residents, and of proper care when lifting and transporting patients.  The CDC cites medical journals including the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Annals of Internal Medicine, and the Journal of the American Medical Association in listing the most frequent causes of nursing home falls:
  • Muscle weakness, walking problems, and gait problems of patients and residents (24%)
  • Environmental hazards (16-17%) including wet floors, poor lighting, incorrect bed height, and improperly fitted or maintained wheelchairs
  • Medications including anti-anxiety medications and sedatives, particularly in the three days following a change in medication
  • Poor foot care
  • Improperly fitted shoes
  • Incorrect use of walking aids
  • Difficulty in moving from one place to another (for example, from a bed to a chair)
A fall in a nursing home, assisted living home, or skilled care facility could be an indication of nursing home neglect.  Contact slip and fall lawyer or nursing home neglect attorney for more information.

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