Incontinence is a risk factor for falls in nursing homes and is one of the risk factors taken into account in care planning for fall prevention.
The reason that incontinence is a risk factor for falls is a simple one: no likes to soil themselves, even nursing home residents. That means that when a nursing home resident feels the urge to urinate or have a bowel movement, they are going to want to get to the bathroom to avoid soiling themselves. Sometimes that will happen even when a resident is otherwise able to comply with safety instructions and recommendations and not suffering from dementia in a way that inhibits their ability to do so.
Making matters worse, once a resident who needs assistance heads to the bathroom without it, they are likely to be hurrying to get, walking in an unusual way as they strain to keep things in, and then need to disrobe without assistance and without a free hand to steady themselves as they do so on their own. All of this sets the stage for a fall to occur.
The use of diuretic medications (“water pills”) is one thing that can make this situation worse by increasing the frequency with which a resident has to urinate. However, the medication is given to help stabilize a resident’s cardiac condition, so it is clearly something that is necessary.
Incontinence as a risk factor for falls is something which can help be minimized by attempts at bowel and bladder retraining or by use of a toileting schedule which helps minimize the number and frequency of bathroom “emergencies” which result in residents attempting to manage this on their own. Further, having the staff provide prompt help after an episode of incontinence helps assure residents that if happens, they will not be left sitting in feces or urine for an extended period of time. This minimizes the resident’s incentive to take the risk of getting to the bathroom without assistance and has the added benefit of reducing the risk of developing bed sores or pressure ulcers.
Our law firm regularly represents the victims of falls in nursing homes and their families. Please contact our experienced Chicago nursing home lawyers for an evaluation of your rights after a nursing home fall.