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Each year, 1,800 people in nursing homes die from falls

Residents of Cook County, Illinois, may agree that older persons living in nursing homes are vulnerable to falls. Older Americans fall frequently and injuries from falls can result in permanent disability and a reduced quality of life in many cases. In addition to injuries, falls also can cause depression and feelings of helplessness among older persons.

Reports state that nearly 1,800 older adults living in nursing homes die each year from injuries resulting from falls. According to a projection based on 2012 statistics, nearly three million older persons over the age of 65 will be living in nursing homes in the future. Currently, about half that number of persons aged 65 or older live in nursing homes.

According to statistics for the Americans ages 65 and older, nursing home residents account for 20 percent of deaths resulting from fall-related injuries, while only five percent of persons who are 65 and older live in nursing homes. On average, people living in a 100-bed nursing home experience 100 to 200 falls per year. Sadly, many of these falls go unreported. Older persons who are unable to walk make up 35 percent of these fall injuries.

Older people living in active senior communities or assisted-living facilities are generally in better health than their counterparts living in nursing homes, where conditions are not exactly ideal for healthy living. Nursing home abuse and neglect is not uncommon and preventing falls in nursing homes is a big challenge for administrators and staff.

Many legal provisions exist to help older persons live a dignified life in nursing homes. Those visiting their loved ones in nursing homes must notify nursing home management if they find any problems that could affect the quality of the patient's life. One may also seek the services of an attorney to defend the rights of nursing home patients.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Falls in Nursing Homes," accessed Jan. 8, 2015

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