Seniors with Cognitive Impairments are More Likely to Fall

jorge-lopez-284336-copy-300x200When do falls among elderly nursing home residents in Escondido and throughout Southern California constitute nursing home negligence? Seniors are more likely to suffer a serious fall-related injury if they already suffer from a cognitive impairment, according to a recent article in Neurology Advisor. That information comes from a new review published in the journal of the American Geriatrics Society, and it makes clear that nursing homes and assisted-living facilities need to consider the cognitive impairment of each resident when determining the amount of care and monitoring that is required.

In other words, if a senior falls when a facility knows that individual has a cognitive impairment, the facility may be responsible for nursing home neglect.

Falls are More Likely When Cognition Suffers

How do researchers know that cognitive impairments may increase the risk of fall-related injuries? In short, there is “increasing evidence that shows that cognitive therapies may help reduce falls in older adults.” The study was conducted by Manuel Montero-Odasso and his colleagues at the University of Western Ontario. To determine whether cognitive impairments do affect a senior’s likelihood of suffering a fall injury, the researchers assessed both observational and interventional studies in order to determine whether there is a clear “relationship between gait and cognition in aging and neurodegeneration.”

What did the researchers find? They determined that when an older adults shows signs of “low performance in attention and executive function,” those features tend to correlate to “gait slowing, instability, and future falls.” Having difficulty walking or balancing can be a primary case for falls, especially in seniors who suffer from Parkinson’s disease.

Cognitive Therapies can Help to Reduce the Rate of Fall-Related Injuries in the Elderly

What can help to prevent falls? The research found that various forms of cognitive therapy may be able to make things better. The authors of the study recommended the following:

  • Drug enhancement of cognition in patients with Parkinson’s disease;
  • Cognitive training;
  • Dual-task training; and
  • Virtual reality modalities.

In short, cognitive therapies may be able to reduce falls.Skilled nursing facilities need to recognize such needs in patients who suffer from cognitive impairments. In the meantime, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) emphasizes that other ways to reduce falls include but are not limited to:

  • Assess a senior’s risk with the help of a healthcare provider;
  • Discuss your elderly loved one’s current health conditions and medications that could increase the risk of a fall, as well as the harms of forgetting to take medications that could prevent a fall;
  • Ensure that your elderly loved one receives regular vision exams;
  • Seek help from a physical therapist; and
  • Check the lighting, stairs, and bathrooms in your elderly loved one’s residence to ensure the areas are well-lit and have secure rails and grab bars.

Discuss Your Situation with an Experienced Escondido Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Not all injuries that occur in nursing homes are the result of elder abuse or neglect, but often, fall-related injuries happen because a senior resident was not being properly monitored. If your elderly loved one fell while in the care of a skilled nursing facility, you should discuss your situation with an Escondido nursing home abuse attorney to learn more about filing a claim for compensation. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn more about how we can help with your nursing home neglect case.

See Related Blog Posts:

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How Do Juries Decide Nursing Home Neglect Cases in Escondido?

(image courtesy of Jorge Lopez)