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Loss of balance common factor in elderly falls, study says

When Chicago nursing home patients are neglected or not properly cared for by staff, they could suffer a number of preventable illnesses or injuries. In extreme cases, nursing home abuse and negligence can lead to fatal health complications. Some common signs of negligence in nursing homes include bed sores, rapid weight loss, dehydration and bruises.

Vulnerable patients could also suffer serious health problems when nursing home workers fail to properly monitor residents. For example, some patients need to be watched closely while they eat if they have a history of easily choking on food. Other patients might need to wear devices that track their whereabouts if they have a history of trying to escape their facilities. And other patients might need assistance when they try to get out of bed or while they walk from one room to another if they are known for falling when trying to move around on their own.

According to a new study, many falls that do occur in nursing homes are the result of elderly patients simply losing their balance. Researchers hope that their study will encourage the elderly to use walkers in order to avoid serious or fatal fall injuries. This study will hopefully encourage nursing home facilities to do a better job of preventing falls as well.

The study was conducted by researchers in British Columbia. For the study, researchers decided to record round-the-clock footage in a long-term care facility. More than 225 falls were recorded, and the majority of the falls were due to patients losing their balance.

Falls from slipping on a surface or tripping over an object can lead to serious injuries. But now researchers believe that many falls are simply due to a loss of balance, especially amongst older people whose muscles and vision may be weaker. The types of medications patients are taking could also contribute to a higher risk of frequently losing one’s balance when walking.

Although the conclusion from this research might seem like common sense, there has actually been little research on what causes older people to fall. By better understanding what may lead to falls amongst the elderly, more lives could be saved. Accidental falls continue to be a leading cause of death and injury amongst folks who are 65 and older in the U.S.

Source: NPR, “Loss of balance is leading cause of elderly falls,” Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Oct. 17, 2012

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