Long Beach Elder Neglect Lawyer
Falling Injuries in Seniors
The elderly population is at serious risk of falls, and these often result in extensive hospitalization and huge medical bills. Why do the elderly tend to fall? Well, many times the fall is the first sign that the senior’s condition is rapidly deteriorating.
How Common Are Falls?
According to the National Council on Aging, approximately 25% of all seniors will fall in a given year. Put into perspective, that is one serious fall every 11 seconds and a fatal one every 19 seconds. Every day. In terms of costs, the numbers are staggering. In 2013, injuries from falls cost $34 billion. That number is expected to rise to $67.7 billion by 2020.
What Usually Causes a Fall?
Seniors may take a spill for one of many reasons, usually:
- Environmental issues. Uneven flooring, trip hazards, slippery floors, or uncleared obstacles.
- Physical limitations. Poor gait or balance issues, decreased flexibility or reflexes.
- Poor judgment. Dementia, unclear thinking, or issues with visual processing.
- Poor vision. Visual issues or depth perception problems.
- Medical issues. Dizziness or other medication side effects.
Why Falls Are Worse for Seniors
Falls are more costly, more serious, and more debilitating for seniors than any other population. Why? Well, falls for seniors are more likely to result in broken bones, which require hospitalization and rehabilitation. The aging human body loses bone mass and muscle tone, and so when seniors fall, they are more likely to break a hip, leg, or arm bone.
The healing process also slows down as a person ages. Recovery can be challenging at best, impossible at worst.
Given that most falls will result in a fracture and most fractures involve the hip, most fall victims spend up to two weeks hospitalized and many spend the rest of their lives either in a rehabilitation facility or completely dependent on the care of others. Frankly, after a serious hip fracture, many seniors can never again get out of bed by themselves again.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Falls?
Fortunately, some, although not all, falls can be prevented with some common-sense actions:
- Make sure there are safety devices and grab/hand rails installed to assist seniors in getting out of bed, in and out of the shower or tub, and up from a seated position.
- Monitor the condition of all flooring and remove rugs or other obstacles to make walking easier for a senior.
- Encourage the use of a cane or walker if the senior is struggling with balance or gait.
- Remove unstable furniture or other obstructions to create clear pathways.
- Make sure there is enough light for the senior to see by.
- Encourage the senior to get regular physical exercise and seek out a fall prevention or self-defense program with a focus on falling techniques.
Whether your senior is living at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a managed care ward, preventing falls is far easier and more cost effective than dealing with the physical, financial, and psychological repercussions of recovering from one. If your senior has taken a fall, however, there may be cause for you to talk to legal counsel. Reach out to a Long Beach elder neglect attorney at Siegel Law at (562) 645-4145 who can advise and counsel you on what to do next.
- Falls Involving the Elderly
- Falls in the Elderly - Merck Manual
- Prevent Falls and Fractures - National Institute on Aging