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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysIf you have an elderly relative, chances are you often worry about their safety. Older individuals often have decreased muscle mass and bone density. A fall that might only result in minor bruising on a young person may cause several broken bones in an elderly individual. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 3 million elderly individuals are treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries every year. More than 95 percent of all hip fractures are caused by falling and falls are the most frequent cause of traumatic brain injuries. Falling injuries resulted in over $50 billion in medical bills in 2015 alone.

Remove Environmental Hazards to Help Prevent Falls

Understandably, all falls cannot be prevented. However, it is the obligation of every caregiver to take steps to prevent elder falls. If you have an elderly loved one, a few environmental changes may decrease the chance that he or she is injured or killed in a fall. Firstly, remove tripping hazards like clutter or loose electrical cords on the floor. Secure loose floor rugs with double-sided tape or remove them entirely. Repair or replace broken furniture or loose floorboards. Install nonslip mats and safety rails in the bathroom. Encourage your loved one to use his or her walker or cane if necessary. Lastly, make sure the lighting is adequate for your loved one to see his or her surroundings clearly.

Nursing Home Falls May Be a Sign of Neglect

Injuries from falling account for about 36 percent of theoretically preventable emergency room visits by nursing home residents. Not every nursing home resident who falls has been neglected. However, an unusual frequency of falls or falls that go unreported may be a sign of nursing home abuse and neglect. Conditions that can cause falls to happen more often include:

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Illinois nursing home falls lawyerThe average, healthy person probably does not give much thought to the dangers of falling. This is rather understandable because a fall is not a very common thing for most people—at least those who are still fairly young. For a senior citizen or the resident of a nursing home, a fall can be absolutely devastating. The injuries sustained in a fall can be quite serious and even fatal. In fact, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that falls represent the leading cause of accidental death and injury for Americans aged 65 and older.

A Growing Segment of the Population

According to the CDC, older Americans suffered some 29 million falls in 2014. About 10 percent (2.8 million) of these falls required emergency medical treatment, and about 800,000 were hospitalized as a result of their falls. More than 27,000 falls eventually led to death. In 2016, about 3 million older adults required emergency care for falls, and nearly 30,000 victims died.

Considering that approximately 10,000 Americans reach age 65 every day, these numbers are expected to continue growing for the foreseeable future. “Older falls are increasing and, sadly, often herald the end of independence,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the CDC.

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Illinois nursing home neglect lawyersThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, in any given year, almost three-quarters of all nursing home residents suffer a fall. Furthermore, many of these patients fall more than once per year. While a slip and fall may not be injury-causing to a young, healthy person, seemingly minor falls can have serious consequences for someone whose body is weakened by illness, injury, or old age. Sadly, falls cause around 1,800 nursing home resident deaths each year.

What Causes Falls?

People staying in nursing homes generally are there because they are at least partially unable to care for themselves. For some residents, this is due to a mental incapacitation such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Other residents are recovering from major surgery or other invasive medical procedures. Many nursing home residents experience muscle weakness or gait problems. These factors can make a person much more likely to slip and fall. Sometimes, hazards such wet floors, incorrect bed height, poor lighting, and inadequate equipment further increase risks of falls.

CDC Says Many Falls Go Unreported

Approximately 36 percent of preventable emergency room visits by nursing home patients are caused by falls. An average-sized nursing home—one containing about 100 beds—generally reports about 100 to 200 falls a year. Unfortunately, the CDC says that this information may not accurately reflect the number of falls actually happening in nursing homes across the country. Realistically, many falls are never reported, so the real number is likely to be much higher.

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