You might think a nursing home is one of the safest places you could send your parents or grandparents. After all, these facilities are staffed 24 hours a day with nurses and other medical professionals on hand to help in case of emergency.
So why do so many nursing home residents fall and suffer serious injuries? In fact, nursing homes have become notorious for having hidden hazards that put their elderly residents at risk for slip-and-fall accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 60% of nursing home residents will suffer a fall within the first year of living in a facility.
These falls can result in broken bones, concussions, or even death. When you add in the fact that older adults are more likely to be injured from a fall than younger adults, it’s clear that something needs to change when it comes to keeping our elders safe from slips and falls in their later years.
Hidden hazards in nursing homes
Nursing homes have a bad reputation among families that are seeking long-term care for a loved one. One of the reasons for this is that many facilities have hidden hazards that put their elderly residents at risk for slip-and-fall accidents.
The following are some of the most common hazards found in nursing homes.
- Loose rugs and carpeting: Loose rugs and old, worn-out carpeting are a common hazard in nursing homes. These items can easily catch someone’s foot and send them tumbling to the floor. Unfortunately, these kinds of hazards are quite common in nursing homes because of the large number of people walking in them every day.
- Uneven walking surfaces: A broken sidewalk, a missing step, or a trip hazard can cause you to fall, break a bone, or get seriously injured. Nursing home residents are particularly at risk for these types of hidden hazards.
- Handrails that aren’t sturdy: Many nursing homes have railings in their hallways or on their staircases. But these railings are often not sturdy enough to hold someone’s weight. This means they can break or collapse under pressure, sending the person holding onto the rail tumbling down the stairs.
- Floors with poor traction: This is a common issue in kitchens. A place where grease spills and food particles can make the floor extremely slippery. In a busy kitchen, this can easily lead to an accident.
A dimly lit room can be dangerous for a number of reasons. It can be harder to see potential trip hazards on the floor, which can result in a dangerous fall. Poor lighting can also cause a person to trip over or run into furniture or walls due to poor visual perception.
In nursing homes, residents who are confined to their rooms often have their lights turned off by staff in order to encourage them to sleep. This can make it nearly impossible to navigate the room without running into a wall or furniture. Poor lighting can also be a serious fire hazard. In the event of a fire, it can be extremely difficult to see enough to get out of the building safely.
Bathrooms without mats or rails
Many nursing homes have beautifully designed bathrooms complete with fancy tiles, a large tub for bathing, and a fancy sink. Unfortunately, many of these bathrooms lack the most basic safety equipment. Such as a mat or a rail, to help an elderly person out of the tub.
This can result in serious injuries, including broken bones, due to a person slipping and falling while attempting to get out of the bathtub. Even when a bathroom has mats and rails, they may break easily because they aren’t designed to withstand the weight of an adult. This can lead to a person falling and suffering a serious injury.
Windows and doors without alarms
Doors can be dangerous in many nursing homes. They may be heavy and difficult to open, leading to serious shoulder and back injuries. They may have broken locks, meaning patients can’t feel safe in their own rooms.
And they may have windows that don’t have alarms on them, meaning a resident can easily fall out of them. Windows without alarms can be particularly dangerous for patients who are wheelchair-bound.
These individuals are often transferred from their chairs to their beds without assistance and put in close proximity to open windows. This can lead to a person accidentally pushing the window open and falling out of it. Windows without alarms can also be a serious fire hazard.
The best way to protect yourself from the hazards of a nursing home is to do your research before you send your loved one to live in one. Speak with current residents and staff members to find out about any issues that exist.
This will help you identify potential hazards and take steps to prevent them. While it’s impossible to eliminate all risks in a nursing home, being proactive can help keep you and your loved ones safe from serious injuries due to falls.