Most of us are very familiar with risk factors. We hear a lot about COVID-19 risk factors, such as a poor immune system and obesity. Usually, individuals are responsible for managing their own risk factors. In other words, if you are at risk for COVID-19, you should probably avoid going out unprotected.
Risk factors in nursing home falls are different. Because of the eggshell skull rule, nursing home owners are still fully responsible for falls even if the victim had one or more risk factors. Essnetially, this rule states that parties, including nursing home owners, take victims as they find them.
Typically, liability attaches if the owner had a legal duty and knew, or should have known, about the hazard which caused the fall. Most owners have a duty of reasonable care in most cases. Additionally, the victim/plaintiff must prove actual or constructive knowledge (should have known) by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
If your loved one exhibits any of the risk factors on this list, take special care to ensure that the nursing home is a safe environment. If things go wrong, reach out to a Lexington personal injury attorney. If your loved one is injured, a lawyer can obtain compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Weak Leg Muscles
As we get older, our muscles deteriorate. Lack of physical exercise accelerates this process. Frequently, a previous fall inhibits physical activity. These individuals are so afraid of a repeat fall that they don’t move around much. Medical conditions, like arthritis or PMR (polymyalgia rheumatica, a common condition that causes excessive inflammation), could come into play as well.
Many older adults suffer from gait disorders. They shuffle their feet when they walk. As a result, when they stumble, they cannot recover and usually fall. Poor eyesight also affects balance. People who cannot see well are essentially walking with their eyes closed. So, they are more likely to stumble and fall.
Dizziness or Lightheadedness
These conditions have a disorienting effect. Muscle weakness often contributes to these issues. Common causes include:
- Inner ear issues, and
- Postural hypotension (sudden drop in blood pressure when standing).
These conditions are normally treatable and not terribly serious. But when they contribute to a fall, they become very serious very quickly.
Blackouts, Fainting, and Loss of Consciousness
Basically the same things that cause lightheadedness and dizziness also cause sudden unconsciousness. However, the problems are obviously much more serious. Many fall victims black out after they fall. Since they do not cry out for help, no one may find them right away, and their physical conditions deteriorate.
Deformities and pain are the most common foot issues in these situations. People with bunions, ingrown toenails, calluses, and other such issues often limp, so they are constantly off balance. These issues also discourage exercise and activity, so they increase muscle weakness. Foot numbness, a related condition, is usually related to diabetes.
Memory Loss, Confusion, and Problem-Solving Issues
As we age, problems with confusion, memory loss, as well as difficulties with thinking and problem solving, often become more common. These issues can affect one’s ability to judge risky situations. So, these individuals take fewer precautions when moving around and are less able to recognize hazards, leading to an increased risk of falls.
Vision and Hearing Problems
People who cannot see hazards almost always trip and fall over them. Legally, a hazard that’s open and obvious to a younger person might be invisible to an older person. People who wear bifocals or varifocals often have additional issues, especially when climbing stairs. Hearing issues are often tied to the aforementioned inner ear and balance issues.
As a rule of thumb, people who take more than four different kinds of medicine at a time usually have at least mild side-effects. These side-effects often include dizziness and lightheadedness. Additionally, people with more serious health conditions usually take stronger medications which have stronger side-effects. People shouldn’t have to choose between fall safety and personal health.
Many nursing home residents wander aimlessly. Left unattended, they could wander down the stairs, into a construction area, or out the door. Long-term care facilities should always have employees in such areas to gently redirect wandering residents.
Bladder or Bowel Conditions
Some people must rush to the bathroom. Others must go to the bathroom more often, which means they move around more, which means they are more likely to fall.
Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money. #goodelawyers