Seniors face several safety issues while in assisted living. Some accidents, like falls, are almost guaranteed to happen, but nursing home staff should have plans in place to prevent these incidents and mitigate injuries.
Top Safety Concerns for Seniors in Nursing Homes
Aging is not without its challenges. Memory can be spotty, legs can be less stable and moods can fluctuate quickly. These challenges can create problems for the elderly, mainly when they occur within the close-quarters of a nursing home.
Though not all nursing home incidents can be prevented, the staff members still have a duty of care and responsibility to know what are the top safety concerns for seniors. The staff members should be aware of these different risks and have precautions in place to ensure their residents remain safe.
Falls and Trips
Falls are the leading cause of injury for seniors. Every 15 seconds an elderly individual is admitted to the emergency room because they were injured in a fall. Part of the problem is that as people age, their bones shrink and their muscles become weaker and less flexible, which can cause instability.
Nursing home staff can account for falls and put measures in place to make the facility safer, including:
- Encourage residents to be physically active to counteract the effect of aging
- Ensure the floor is carpeted and that any area rugs are taped down to prevent tripping hazards
- Recommend residents use assistive devices and provide walkers or canes, to get around
- Have good lighting, elevators or ramps to make walking around more comfortable
- Provide rubber mats, grab bars and shower seats for bathtubs
Not Having Proper Assistive Devices
Another safety concern that seniors living in homes face is not having proper assistive devices available to them. Your loved one could be at risk of harm if the home does not have access to appropriate wheelchairs, bed rails, bed lifts or bathing lifts among other things.
However, merely having access to these assistive devices may not prevent injuries. If the staff members are not using their own assistive devices safely or correctly, the residents could be injured.
A third danger that nursing home residents face is receiving incorrect medications. As individuals age, they tend to require more medications to manage chronic health conditions. If these medications are taken without proper consultation with their doctor or pharmacist, it could cause side effects and negative interactions between the drug types.
Other issues can arise from minor lapses in the residents’ memory. They may forget to take their medication, or they may forget that they have taken it and double-dose. Staff members can help prevent harm by tracking when what kind each medication and how much the residents are supposed to receive.
Staff should be reading the labels each and every time to ensure they are giving the residents the correct medication and the right dosage.
Abuse From Other Residents or Staff
One other danger that nursing home residents face is abuse. This could be physical, emotional or sexual abuse from other residents or staff members. Staff members should be trained to recognize the signs of abuse so they can intervene and protect the residents.
The home should also ensure there are policies in place that address safety concerns for seniors and that staff members have been taught how to respond to dangerous situations effectively.
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse
Safety concerns for seniors should always be reported immediately to the nursing home administration or call 911 for emergencies.
If you or someone you love has experienced severe safety issues at nursing homes or has been the victim of abuse, you have legal rights and should report your concerns immediately. You can work with the Nursing Home Abuse Center and speak to a trusted legal partner about your case.