A fall can cause a traumatic brain injury or TBI, which includes concussions. Elderly people are more susceptible to falls because the ability to balance decreases with age, and they may have more difficulty walking without assistance. For this reason, falls in nursing homes are common because of the number of elderly and incapacitated patients. However, falls in nursing homes can be prevented if the staff takes reasonable measures to ensure safety.
Basic Requirements for Resident Safety
A nursing home facility should provide a safe place for residents to move around by meeting specific guidelines to prevent falls. This includes removing tripping hazards, such as rugs and electrical cords from traffic areas, as well as keeping clutter out of hallways and other walk areas.
Non-slip mats should be installed in bathrooms, especially in showers and bathtubs. Handrails in showers and grab bars near toilets and along stairways should also be installed to help prevent falls. Chairs with padded arms provide more stability to assist a person while rising out of the chair until he or she is able to gain his or her balance. Proper lighting throughout the resident’s room and common areas ensure residents have better visibility of their surroundings to reduce the risk of trips and falls.
In addition, nursing home staff members should be aware of medications that residents may be taking that could impact balance or cause dizziness or lightheadedness. Some medications increase the risk of an injury from a fall because of the side effects associated with these medications. Staff members need to have procedures in place to provide fast response to calls for help, so residents don’t attempt to get up on their own, especially in the case of residents who have conditions that make standing and walking without assistance dangerous.
Signs of Traumatic Brain Injury
In addition to setting up procedures to prevent falls, it’s important for staff members to recognize signs of a concussion and other brain injuries right away to obtain immediate medical help. Some of the most common signs of a brain trauma include:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Inability to concentrate
- Reaction time is slower
- Loss of consciousness even if it is only for a moment
- Double vision
- Blurred vision
- Changes in the ability to taste or smell
- Changes in personality
- Inability to remember facts or events
- Changes in speech
- Difficulty with fine or gross motor skills
If you notice any of these signs after a fall, even days later, it’s important to take the person to a medical provider for a diagnosis.
A TBI can cause long-term problems and result in permanent disability or death. If a person falls, he or she needs to rest and move with caution, even after a doctor releases the person for normal activity. Close monitoring is essential to ensure the person returns to normal activity after a fall in a nursing home.
Do You Need a Rhode Island Nursing Home Abuse Attorney?
Some falls in nursing homes are due to neglect or negligence. It is important to investigate the cause of the fall to determine if your loved one has a claim against one or more parties. A monetary award cannot undo the damage caused by nursing home abuse; however, it can provide for extended personal care and additional medical care to help your loved one recover fully from the fall. In addition, it brings the abuse to light so that other patients may not have to suffer the way your loved one has suffered.
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