There are many risk factors for elderly people that can contribute to an increased risk of sustaining a broken or fractured hip injury as the result of an accidental fall. Nursing home staff should take these risk factors into consideration when assessing which residents are at a higher risk of suffering from a fall, and should take additional precautionary measures to prevent accidental falls for residents who exhibit specific susceptibility.
Female vs. Male
Women are three times more likely to suffer from a broken or injured hip after a fall than men. This is due to the increased risk of osteoporosis in women. Nursing home staff should make sure that women in the home are getting adequate levels of vitamin D and calcium in their diets, as well as regular screenings for osteoporosis. Men should be checked as well, as men can also develop osteoporosis. Also, staff should monitor those residents, both male and female, who are known to have osteoporosis.
This is commonly associated with the resident’s “frailty.” The advanced age of a resident places him or her at a higher risk of suffering from a broken hip after a fall. Older persons lose bone density at a higher rate than younger people, and these residents may have already lost bone density over the years. Older residents also have more vision problems, and may not see obstacles in their path, over which they could easily trip. Older persons tend to have weaker muscles and nervous system problems that cause them to lose control of muscles, have muscle spasms, or a slow reaction time. These residents also exhibit balance problems more frequently.
Physically Inactive Residents
Physical exercise that involves weight-bearing can promote healthy muscles and good balance. Even just regular walking and participating in aerobic exercise classes, such as water aerobics, can greatly reduce the risk of suffering from a hip injury during a fall. While it is true that sometimes an accidental fall happens during physical activity, because the residents who exercise are more healthy and stronger generally, the chances of a hip injury in physically active residents are lower than for those residents who are often inactive. With that being the case, nursing home staff should keep tabs on which residents exercise regularly, and which ones do not. Staff should encourage those inactive residents who are capable of physical activity to exercise and should encourage them to join exercise classes or walks. Staff should try to facilitate introducing inactive residents to more active residents in an effort to encourage camaraderie and more physical activity.
There are certain medications that are known to weaken bone. For example, some steroids that are commonly used in the treatment of cancer can cause bone loss. There are also many medications, or combinations of medications, that have a side effect of causing dizziness, lightheadedness, or sudden loss of balance. These side effects can cause even a considerably healthy and strong-boned resident to suddenly fall. Nursing home residents should be aware of residents that are on these types of medications.
A History of Falling
Residents that have a history of falling have a higher tendency to fall again for a plurality of reasons. Some residents are simply clumsy, some have become clumsy in their old age, or some may have recently received an implant or mobility assistance device with which they are still unfamiliar. Nursing home staff should note when residents have a history of falling and take precautionary measures to prevent future falls.
If your loved one has suffered from a fall in a nursing home, please contact Robert Rooth today at 877-356-3007.
National Osteoporosis Foundation, Medicines that May Cause Bone Loss