If your parent resides in a nursing home, you need to know that falls account for the number one reason why patients suffer injuries. You also need to know that if your parent falls, (s)he probably did so because (s)he did not receive the care (s)he needed at the time (s)he needed it.
Academic Life in Emergency Medicine reports that many nursing homes fail to give their their elderly, ill or otherwise incapacitated patients the walking assistance they require. This lack of timely assistance becomes particularly dangerous when your parent needs to use the bathroom, but no one answers his or her call light. (S)he therefore attempts to get there without assistance and falls in the process.
Traumatic brain injury
Unlike younger people, your parent faces a grave risk of receiving a traumatic brain injury any time (s)he slips and falls. (S)he can all too easily hit his or her head against the bed frame, a piece of furniture or the floor. The resulting impact can cause his or her brain to begin malfunctioning, the definition of a traumatic brain injury.
Whenever you visit your parent, be alert for the following signs of traumatic brain injury:
- Speech difficulties
- Cognitive difficulties
- Inappropriate responses to your questions and comments
- A higher than normal level of anxiety, depression, ill temper, etc.
- Combative behavior
If you notice your parent exhibiting any of the above, or if (s)he simply does not seem like himself or herself, ask him or her if (s)he recently fell. Regardless of the answer, check for tell-tale bruises on his or her head. In addition, ask follow-up questions of his or her usual caregivers. If you feel they answer you evasively, continue following up with the nursing home administrator and your parent’s personal doctor. You may have legitimate cause for a nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuit.