Nursing home injuries for older adults remain to be an all too common issue in the United States. Older adults are at a greater risk for fall injuries. In fact, of the 1.6 million residents in U.S. nursing facilities, the Agency for Healthcare Search and Quality reports approximately half fall annually, and about 1 in 3 of those residents will fall multiple times in a year. Furthermore, fall-related injuries can impact a person’s day-to-day quality of life. By learning more about fall injuries in a nursing home, we can better protect our elderly loved ones. 

Falls in Older Adults are Serious

Based on data and research from the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, fall-related injuries in adults 65 and old can be severe. 

  • One out of five falls causes a severe injury such as broken bones or a head injury. 
  • Each year, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall-related injuries. 
  • Over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture.
  • Each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

Common Causes of Nursing Home Falls

According to the Agency for Healthcare Search and Quality, most falls in nursing homes are caused by a combination of risk factors, including:

  • Muscle weakness 
  • Medication side effects
  • Chronic diseases 
  • behavioral symptoms and unsafe behaviors 
  • Environmental hazards
  • Unsafe equipment 
  • Unsafe personal care items 

Preventing Nursing Home Falls

Falls in nursing homes are preventable. According to the CDC, it may require medical treatment, rehabilitation therapy, making environmental changes. Here are a few things we can do. 

  • Exercises to help older adults to improve their balance and muscle strength.
  • Creating an environment for older adults to move around safely. Such as adding grab bars, raised toilet seats, and installing handrails in hallways. 
  • Educating nursing home staff members on fall prevention strategies.
  • Reviewing prescribed medications to assess their potential risks and benefits.

For more preventive measures, check out the CDC’s Fall in Nursing Home Guide.

Fall Prevention Awareness Week

Fall Prevention Awareness Week is celebrated every September. The nationwide initiative helps to promote fall prevention education and brings awareness of how fall-related injuries impact older Americans. If you want to get involved in Fall Prevention Awareness Week, go to the National Council on Aging website.