Dementia does contribute to the risk of residents experiencing falls in nursing homes. It is one of the factors that must be taken into account in any well-done fall risk assessment as part of the care planning process.
Dementia, whether it comes in the form of a formal diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s, or is demonstrated through intermittent or constant confusion contributes to fall risk in that nursing home residents are likely to either forget to follow steps and instructions necessary to assure their own safety or make poor judgments about their own safety. Either way, the risk of experiencing a fall with a catastrophic result such as a hip fracture, a brain bleed, or wrongful death is likely to result.
It may surprise some to see intermittent confusion treated the same way as conditions that are always present. This is because even when a resident has periods of time where their mental process and judgment is completely intact, there are periods where it is not. Making this even more dangerous, those periods where confusion reigns are inherently unpredictable.
One common step seen in every fall prevention care plan is staff to remind residents to use the call light before getting up, for assistance, and so forth. Residents who are suffering from dementia are at risk for failing to follow that instruction. When that happens, they are walking without assistance or supervision and are at risk for falling.
Residents who suffer from dementia and who have demonstrated a history of getting up without assistance when it is really needed would benefit from the use of devices such as bed alarms which serve to alert the staff that the resident is up unattended and to remind the resident that assistance is needed.
Our law firm serves nursing home residents and their families who have experienced a fall in a nursing home. Please contact our experienced Chicago nursing home lawyers to get advice about your rights and options after a nursing home fall.