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Preventing Falls in Senior Living Communities

Posted on November 20, 2014 4:43 pm under Premises Liability

As one of the leading causes of injury-related death for older Americans, senior living communities have undertaken a number of forward-thinking initiatives to help reduce the number of falls in their facilities. As reported by the New York Times, senior living communities, like The Sequoias in San Francisco, are working to strike a delicate balance between maintaining the independence of their residents and taking every precaution possible to prevent falls.

Perhaps the most troubling statistic reported in the NYT article is in regards to the number of older Americans who died after a fall; in 2012, nearly 24,000 individuals over the age of 65 died after a fall, nearly double the reports of only a decade prior. To better prevent falls in their facility, The Sequoias, for example, employs interior designers and architects—some of whom even wear glasses designed to help them see the facility as though they had cataracts or glaucoma, for instance—to suggest and implement improvements to their property.

Some of the more inventive measures reportedly taken by senior living communities include: motion-activated floor lighting similar to that found in an airplane’s aisles; bathroom flooring that is energy-absorbent and designed to reduce the impact of a fall; and high-contrast tiling and carpet to help seniors distinguish things like the thresholds of showers and the beginning and end of a staircase.

All of this marks a sharp departure from an era in which restraints were regularly used to limit the mobility of residents in a misguided effort to limit the risk of falls. Not only is the use of restraints widely recognized as inhumane, but many restraints have been found to be altogether dangerous. Today, senior living communities utilize a number of other safety precautions—like clip-on alarms that sound when a resident moves too far out of his or her wheelchair—to prevent high-risk residents from falling while also not limiting their mobility.

While senior living communities around the country continue to make advances in the quality of their care and services, some communities have been slower than others to enact some of these forward-looking policies. To discuss any injuries you or your loved one sustained in a nursing home slip and fall accident with an experienced Milwaukee personal injury lawyer, please call Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ® at (414) 271-0900 today.