Medicare Gets Involved in Preventing Senior Falls

Medic taking care of injured woman with whiplash collar in ambulance.

For the elderly population, falls represent a serious health hazard. A fall can quickly turn into a fatal injury, as many hip fractures result in immobility, which later turns into pneumonia and other bedbound conditions. For this reason, the best option is to seek out ways to prevent a fall in the first place. Of course, this can be challenging in some environments. Medicare has now gotten involved in the conversation and is coming up with rules and policies to help family caregivers and health facilities alike. At Truitt Law Offices, we help injured people seek justice. Give us a free call any time to discuss your fall and injuries.

Falls in the Community

When a senior enters a property, such as a mall, shop, or restaurant, there should be basic standards that apply to the safety of the facility. For instance, businesses in Indiana must meet local ordinances, state laws, and building codes. Likewise, larger businesses may need to maintain compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). With respect to easier prevention methods, businesses and property owners should:

  • Keep floors clear of hazards
  • Mop spills as soon as discovered
  • Use wet floor signs and other cautions
  • Close off unsafe areas of a building
  • Fix broken steps or handrails quickly or block access

Measuring Fall Risks

For seniors who reside in nursing homes and other facilities, falls should be considered a constant possibility. This means assessing the risk upon admission and whenever there is a change in condition. Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Perform a fall risk assessment
  • Implement frequent resident checks
  • Monitor medications
  • Discuss mobility and assistance with the resident
  • Look to family members for support
  • Consider the use of protective measures like alarms, skid-resistant socks, and so forth

Medicare’s Newest Position on Senior Falls

According to the latest guidelines from Medicare, the federal government has implemented a program known as “Stopping Elderly Accidents, Injuries & Deaths” (STEADI). Through this program, Medicare has provided a recommended algorithm to predict and prevent falls among the elderly population. In particular, materials are provided to help facilities and nursing staff better understand the risk factors, barriers to prevention, and methods of mitigating the risk.

In the past, things like bed alarms and bed rails were widely used, because they actually worked to a large extent. Sadly, they can also have the unintended consequence of making some seniors not get out of bed or become more embarrassed or isolated. Therefore, Medicare has begun recommending that these things not be implemented in all cases. Instead, more frequent observations and bathroom visits are now becoming a bigger part of precautionary measures, as are things like medical interventions and higher staffing levels.

How to Get Help if Someone Else Caused a Senior’s Injury

Not all injuries are accidents. Some injuries are completely preventable with proper medical interventions. Likewise, even though a senior may be unsteady or have difficulty with gait and balance, a lot of seniors are hurt in supermarkets and shops each year simply because trip hazards were left on the floor or other dangers were not resolved.

If you suspect someone has caused your injury, or you have an elderly loved one who has been hurt in a fall, give Truitt Law Offices a call today to speak with a lawyer about the situation. We never charge for a consultation, and our fees are only paid if you win.

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About the Author

As an attorney who has practiced law in Northeast Indiana for nearly four decades, Richard Truitt has seen many changes in the way personal injury and wrongful death cases are handled. However, at least one aspect of his work has remained the same. “You always have to listen to your clients, and you have…