What Risks Do Seniors Face When Living in a Nursing Home?

As our population continues to age, the need for nursing homes and assisted living facilities continues to grow. While these facilities can provide seniors with a safe and supportive environment, they also come with their own unique set of health risks. Here are some of the biggest threats to the health of seniors in nursing homes.

Bedsores

Bedsores are one of the most common problems that seniors deal with in assisted living facilities. Each year, thousands of families choose to file a bedsore lawsuit against the nursing facility. Senior citizens, especially those who lack a full range of mobility, are at a heightened risk for bed sores and other pressure ulcers since they are more sedentary and will sit in one position for long periods.

Falls

Falls are the leading cause of injury among seniors in nursing homes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1,800 nursing home residents die each year from falls, and many more are injured. Seniors in nursing homes are at an increased risk of falling due to factors such as mobility issues, medication side effects, and environmental hazards.

Medication Errors

Seniors in nursing homes often have multiple health conditions and take multiple medications, which can increase the risk of medication errors. These errors can include prescribing the wrong medication, administering the wrong dose, or failing to monitor for side effects. If the wrong medications are taken, they could interact negatively with a resident’s usual medications and could lower their effectiveness and cause the resident’s condition to worsen. Medication errors can have serious consequences, including hospitalization and even death.

Infections

Infections are a major concern in nursing homes, as seniors are more susceptible to infections due to weakened immune systems. Common infections in nursing homes include urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, and skin infections. These infections can sometimes be difficult to treat. If left untreated, these infections have the potential to worsen and become fatal.

Malnutrition

Malnutrition is a common issue among seniors in nursing homes since some seniors might either forget to eat and drink due to cognitive decline or are unable to provide for their nutritional needs due to mobility issues. Malnutrition can have serious consequences for their health. Malnutrition can lead to weight loss, weakened immune systems, and an increased risk of falls and infections.

Neglect and abuse

Unfortunately, neglect and abuse are also major threats to the health of seniors in nursing homes. Neglect can include failure to provide adequate medical care, hygiene, and nutrition, while abuse can include physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. These issues most commonly occur when the wrong people are hired for the job and lack the patience and compassion to care for senior citizens.

What Can Be Done?

You might feel helpless seeing how many issues there are in the way that senior citizens are cared for, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing that can be done to fix these problems. Some ways to improve the experience of senior citizens in nursing homes might include:

Preventing Bedsores

To prevent bedsores, nursing homes should try to keep residents active. For residents who have conditions that limit their mobility, the nursing home’s caregivers will have to move their bodies and shift their weight to prevent too much pressure from being put on any one spot for long periods. If a resident does have bedsores, they must be kept clean to prevent infection.

Preventing Falls

To prevent falls, nursing homes should conduct regular assessments of residents’ fall risk and implement appropriate interventions, such as installing grab bars in bathrooms and ensuring that walkways are clear of clutter.

Preventing Medication Errors

To prevent medication errors, nursing homes should have systems in place for accurately prescribing, administering, and monitoring medications. This may include electronic medication administration records and regular medication reviews.

Preventing Infections

To prevent infections, nursing homes should have protocols in place for infection control, including regular hand hygiene, appropriate use of personal protective equipment, and proper cleaning and disinfection of resident rooms and common areas.

Preventing Malnutrition

To prevent malnutrition, nursing homes should ensure that residents receive adequate nutrition and hydration. This may include regular assessments of residents’ nutritional status, individualized meal plans, and assistance with feeding for residents who need it.

Preventing Neglect and Abuse

To prevent neglect and abuse, nursing homes should have protocols in place for reporting and investigating allegations of neglect and abuse. This may include training staff on identifying and reporting signs of neglect and abuse, as well as conducting regular background checks on staff members.

Conclusion

In conclusion, nursing homes provide vital care for seniors who are no longer able to live independently. However, they also come with their own unique set of health risks. By addressing these risks and implementing appropriate interventions, nursing homes can help ensure that their residents stay healthy and safe.

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