Today, America is facing an aging population, and with the baby-boomer generation heading into retirement and beyond, the need for elder care and other related services is growing as well. Not only will the next generation of seniors be larger in size, but because of the considerable advances made in health care, they will be living longer, too.
One of the most difficult issues facing elder care facilities in accommodating a growing elderly population, is finding a balance between providing a safe environment while allowing residents to maintain as much independence as possible. As this segment of the population grows, the number of seniors who fall and suffer serious, or even fatal injuries, is growing rapidly.
As falls have increased, so to, has related litigation, and elder care facilities are now tasked with protecting residents to the best of their ability while protecting their bottom line, as well. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, in 2012, elderly adults were treated for 2.4 million nonfatal falls, of which more than one-third were hospitalized. Moreover, between 20-30% of those people suffered moderate to severe injuries, and nearly 24,000 of those falls ultimately proved fatal.
As a result of this growing and dangerous trend, elder care facilities have been vigilant in making efforts to protect their residents, while allowing for residents to retain their lifestyle. These facilities have turned to solutions that include automatic floor lighting that illuminates a path for a resident as soon as their feet touch the ground, energy-absorbing flooring to help soften the impact of a fall, lessons on preventing falls and also fitness classes to help improve strength and balance. Other efforts like using contrasting colors on flooring, or even adding white stripes to the edge of stairs are helpful in making potential hazards more noticeable, even to someone with deteriorating vision.
The more that these facilities push, however, the more residents are inclined push back if they feel as though they are being too coddled. Residents of these facilities spend exorbitant amounts of money to be well cared for, but also for the ability to retain a semblance of independence in their daily lives. For elder care facilities, finding the balance between maintaining resident safety, improving independent lifestyles, and limiting liability is a difficult one, and makes the hard work they already do, even harder.
If you know someone who has been injured while under the care of a nursing home or assisted-living facility, please call us at (954) 349-3300 for a free consultation.
For more information on this topic visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at: