The Nursing Home Nightmare: Exposing the Alarming Rate of Slip and Fall Accidents Among the Elderly in Iowa

Slip and fall accidents are a major concern for the elderly, especially those living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. These accidents can result in serious injuries like broken bones, head trauma, and even death. In Iowa, slip and falls rank as one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries and deaths among adults over the age of 65. This article will examine the alarming rate of slip and fall accidents among the elderly in Iowa nursing homes and discuss ways to prevent these dangerous mishaps.

The Startling Statistics

Falls are a leading cause of injury in nursing homes, with up to 6% of falls causing a fracture. A nursing home with around 100 residents can expect to report as many as 200 falls a year, which is alarming given falls in people aged 85+ are more likely to result in death than at any other age. With Iowa’s rapidly aging population, these numbers are only expected to rise if preventative measures are not taken.

High-Risk Factors in Nursing Homes

There are several factors that make the elderly living in nursing homes especially vulnerable to slipping and falling. As we age, conditions like osteoporosis, arthritis, and muscle weakness increase our chances of falling. Medications that cause drowsiness or dizziness also play a role. But environmental hazards within nursing homes themselves present additional risks.

Wet or polished floors, cluttered hallways, poor lighting, and lack of handrails all contribute to falls. Bathrooms tend to be the most dangerous area, as residents can slip on wet surfaces while showering or struggle to lower themselves onto the toilet. Rough transitions between floors, such as from carpet to tile, also pose tripping hazards. Without proper safety features and precautions in place, nursing home environments inadvertently put residents at risk on a daily basis.

The Severe Impact of Slip and Fall Injuries

For the elderly, a simple slip and fall can have devastating consequences. Frail bones are more prone to breaking during falls, often leading to debilitating hip fractures. Head injuries that cause bleeding in the brain or concussions are also common. After a serious fall, some elderly people may develop a fear of walking due to injury, pain, or lack of confidence in their balance. This can start a vicious cycle of reduced mobility and loss of independence.

In the worst cases, complications from fall injuries can be fatal. Pneumonia, blood clots, and other secondary health issues can develop as the elderly are bedridden while recovering. The trauma of the fall may also contribute to an earlier death. Clearly, preventing these accidents from occurring in the first place is critical.

Implementing Safeguards and Interventions

Nursing homes have an obligation to keep their residents safe from harm. Here are some strategies they should employ to reduce slip and fall risks:

  • Conduct thorough assessments of each resident to identify mobility issues, vision/hearing impairments, medication side effects, and other fall risk factors. Care plans should then be customized.
  • Provide assistive devices like canes, walkers, and wheelchairs to help stabilize high fall-risk residents.
  • Install adequate handrails, grip bars, shower seats/benches, and non-slip mats, especially in bathrooms.
  • Make sure floors, stairs, and pathways are kept dry and free of clutter. Address uneven surfaces.
  • Improve lighting in rooms and corridors. Night lights and supplemental lighting can help in the evenings.
  • Regularly review medications for side effects like dizziness, sedation, or confusion.
  • Implement exercise programs to improve strength, balance, and mobility. Tai Chi has been shown to be very effective.
  • Educate residents and family members on fall prevention and precautions.

The alarming rates of serious and fatal slip and fall accidents among Iowa’s elderly nursing home residents require immediate action, and it’s worth noting that high fall rates may indicate neglect and abuse, as staff fail to implement precautions, assist residents, and provide adequate supervision.

Nursing homes must take every reasonable measure to create safer environments and protect this vulnerable population. With proactive policies and interventions, many of these devastating injuries could be avoided in the future. All older Iowans deserve to live out their later years in a comfortable setting without the constant risk of falls and fractures. It is the responsibility of healthcare facilities to ensure their safety.

If your loved one has suffered an injury because of a nursing home fall, get in touch with us today. We have offices in 32 locations and 19 states, including Iowa, Utah, and Ohio.

Call now for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597.