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A time might come when you need to move one of your older relatives into a nursing home or an assisted living facility. If that happens, they might be okay with it, or they may be reluctant to go. They’ve probably lived on their own for multiple decades, and they may not like the idea of assisted living, even if they are no longer as spry as they once were.
We’ll take some time to talk about why falls happen in nursing homes and the most common injuries that result when they do. If you know about this subject, you’re more likely to locate a safe facility for your older relative, and both you and they should be happy about that.
How Common Are Nursing Home Falls and Fractures?
1,800 patients die annually as a result of nursing home falls. That’s a frightening statistic, but deaths are among the more extreme outcomes when an older person falls. Fractures are considerably more likely.
A fracture is a broken bone. As humans age, their bones become more brittle. They can ingest extra calcium to combat this, and there are certain medications a doctor might give them that can help as well.
However, despite those precautions, nursing home falls take place more often than anyone would like. The CDC says that every year, between 50 and 75% of nursing home residents fall. That’s two to three out of every four individuals, and that’s not great odds for your loved one.
What Usually Causes These Falls?
If you go to the CDC website, you’ll see that they list several factors that can cause nursing home falls. They mention inadequate lighting, environmental hazards, and slippery floors specifically. Let’s address each of these three, in turn, so you and your older relative can talk about how to prevent them.
If you’re going to put your older relative in a nursing home, you’ll need to do extensive research on each candidate. You want to find one that has excellent online feedback.
Then, you and your older relative can go to visit it. Your relative might talk to some of the other residents, who can mention what the conditions are really like there.
You and your relative can also look and see for yourselves. If there is inadequate lighting anywhere, that’s something you’ll quickly notice. If you see it in multiple places and no employees seem eager to fix the problem, that’s a potential red flag.
Once you move your older relative into the home you choose, you should visit them often and look for burned-out or dim lighting. You should also make sure they have a smartphone to call or text you if they notice the same thing.
Of course, if your older relative has diminished faculties, they won’t be able to warn you. It’ll be up to you to visit frequently to check on their living conditions.
Environmental hazards can be equally dangerous. You might have obstacles in some of the hallways where the residents might stumble or trip over them.
Just as it is with poor lighting, you can look for that sort of thing when you visit. You can instruct your relative to let you know about it if they’re capable of doing so.
Both you and your relative should watch out for ice and snow in the winter outside the facility, assuming your relative goes outside sometimes. When you visit, if you see that no one has shoveled the walkways around the buildings or that there’s uncleared ice everywhere, you should talk to management about it.
You should also make sure your older relative has shower shoes to wear that give them some traction. If they’re not able to shower or bathe on their own anymore, you need to ensure that the staff is helping them when they wash.
Additional Ways to Avoid Fractures and Other Injuries
When you’re getting ready to place your older relative in the nursing home, you need to have a long conversation with the staff about their capabilities. If your older relative is still fairly sharp mentally and physically, they won’t need as much direct assistance.
If your older relative has advanced dementia or anything like that, the staff will need to take a much more hands-on role with them. They’ll need to be there with your relative throughout the day, so they don’t harm themselves by accident.
Watch Out for Elder Abuse as Well
You’ll also need to visit frequently to watch out not only for slippery surfaces and other dangers but also to make sure no elder abuse is taking place. Elder abuse can be physical, and if it’s happening, you might notice bruising, cuts, or burns on your relative’s body.
It might be psychological, such as when the staff deprives your relative of their medication, privileges, or food. It might even be sexual. You’ll need to watch for mood changes when you see your relative. If they seem anxious, frightened, or depressed, that could mean elder abuse is happening.
The best thing to do for your older relative is to find a nursing home or assisted living facility with an excellent reputation, and then to visit them often, so they know you still love and care about them. Part of that is looking out for possible dangers, so they don’t suffer a fracture or some other injury.
When you visit, you can talk to the staff about what they’re doing specifically to help your relative get through their day-to-day life. You can speak to your relative to confirm what the staff members say, assuming your relative can still communicate with you effectively.
When people get old, they often need relatives and friends to care for them. Even if you’re younger now and mentally and physically fit, the time will come when you need these same services, so keep that in mind and assist your older relatives as best you can.