Avoid Problems with Nursing Homes by Staying Out of Them: Slips and Falls in Winter Weather

January 25th, 2017 by Attorney Roger Weinberg

To avoid nursing home abuse and neglect you should take steps to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible and avoid becoming a nursing home resident. Many residents were discharged from hospitals after treatment for diseases or injuries and sent to Maryland nursing homes because they couldn’t safely be discharged back home. A large number of the elderly are in nursing homes due to injuries from falls.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • 20% of falls result in a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury.
  • About 2.8 million older people are treated in emergency departments due to fall injuries every year.
  • At least 300,000 older people are hospitalized due to hip fractures each year, and more than 95% of these fractures are caused by falls.

Given the danger of injury due to falls, the elderly should be especially careful when they go out during the winter when snow and ice increase the risk of falling. A study released in 2015 found that in Canadian winters, older people fall 20% more often after a freezing rain alert, according to Reuters.

Authors suggest stronger cautions against going outside because the alerts actually mean something, especially for the elderly. The best option may be to stay indoors as much as possible for a day or two. David Buckeridge, the study’s senior author, states that for certain people bad weather “drastically increases their risk” of falling.

Previous research shows that about half of all falls among the elderly occur outside. Researchers looked at emergency room data on patients in Montreal from 1998 to 2006. They looked at days with freezing rain alerts and those with snowstorm alerts. They had a total of about 136,000 injury reports for city residents 65 and older.

  • During a winter freezing-rain advisory, there was a 20% percent increase in falls among the elderly.
  • Risks were especially high for those 75 and older.
  • Men were also at higher risk, 31% more likely to fall on freezing-rain alert days, compared to other days.
  • Researchers propose that men might be more likely to go out in bad weather, be less careful or are more prone to losing their balance than women when they go out.
  • Fall rates overall were not different between winter and other seasons.
  • The total rate of falls was higher among the women than men.
  • When there were hazardous-snowstorm alerts, there was a slight drop in fall-related injuries.
  • Hip fractures occurred at similar rates whether there was freezing rain or snow, but they were 12% more likely in winter compared to the rest of the year.

According to Dr. Michael McCloud, a geriatrician at the University of California, Davis:

  • Fall-related injuries the leading cause of injury death in older adults.
  • They often are the main cause of the “cascade to dependency,” resulting in the loss of independence.
  • One in three people 65 and older will fall each year, with about a quarter having at least a moderately severe injury.
  • Older pedestrians should use deep-tread shoes and boot soles or removable traction cleats or hip protectors.
  • They should take smaller steps and avoid walking outside in slippery weather, drinking alcohol or using sedating medications before going outside.
  • Year-round balance and leg-strengthening exercises may reduce the chance of falling, and vitamin D supplements might also reduce the seriousness of fall-related injuries.

If you or a loved one ended up in a Maryland nursing home because of an injury and later suffered neglect or abuse, we can help you address the situation and seek compensation. At the Law Offices of Roger S. Weinberg, you’ll find compassionate support and experienced advocates to help your family through the tough times. Call 1-866-529-5839 today to schedule a free consultation.

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