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Our elderly are at growing risk for serious falling accidents

The CDC reports that falls among Americans 65 and older have risen sharply over the last decade. The elderly are not only more prone to falling, but more likely to suffer serious injury when they do.

The alarming increase in falling accidents has brought a spotlight to one of the leading dangers for our seniors. Elderly patients in nursing homes, hospitals and assisted living facilities need to be assessed for fall risk and monitored.

Falling deaths rose 30 percent in a decade

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about one-fourth of Americans age 65 or older report a falling accident each year. These events can be very dangerous. More than 29,000 senior citizens died in 2016 as a result of falls -- an alarming increase from the 18,000 fall-related deaths reported in 2007.

The rate of fatal falls rose in 30 states, including California, with the highest increase among the elderly age 85 and older. With the over-65 population growing, injury and death from falls will likely continue to climb.

Nursing homes and hospitals can help reverse the trend

Most falls are preventable. The CDC calls on health care providers to address fall prevention:

  • Assess new patients for fall
  • Provide appropriate intervention (supervision and assistance)
  • Educated patients about preventing falls (at home or in facilities)

The City of Baltimore has undertaken a major initiative to reduce falls among elderly residents. Using data on falling accidents, the city is targeting specific areas where falls are likely to occur. By installing railings and upgrading lighting, for example, they aim to reduce falls by 20 percent - in contrast to the upward trend around the country.

Falling accidents can be actionable claims

Falls are a form of elder abuse and neglect. They are more common in understaffed nursing homes and hospitals where patients may try to get out of bed or use the bathroom on their own because no one comes to help them.

If a loved one dies unexpectedly from a fall or has unexplained injuries, a personal injury lawyer who handles nursing home negligence and medical malpractice claims can determine if the facility failed to provide the expected standard of care.

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