This weekend my mother-in-law suffered a bad fall at her nursing home. The fall happened around 5:00 AM and resulted in an ambulance ride to the local hospital. Luckily, she didn’t break any bones but did suffer a nasty gash across her forehead and two black eyes.
Each year, 1.8 million Americans over age 65 are injured in falls, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some rebound as if the injury never happened. But for some, the fall sets off a downward spiral of physical and emotional problems — including pneumonia, depression, social isolation, infection and muscle loss — that become too much for their bodies to withstand.
My mother-in-law’s fall lead me to do a little Internet search over the weekend about the frequency and preventability of falls in the nursing home setting. I ran across a great article from the New York Times entitled, “Once Just an Aging Sign, Falls Merit Complex Care.”
The article is worth reading. The issue is complex but it is clear to me that nursing homes and doctors caring for nursing home patients are doing far too little to reduce the likelihood of what can be a life-changing or even fatal injury.