Is a senior in a nursing home at greater risk of suffering a fall-related injury if that senior is more socially isolated as a result of the pandemic? Nursing home staff members are supposed to provide regular and frequent care to nursing home residents, and to ensure that older adults in Los Angeles County nursing facilities are not left unattended for a long enough period of time that a serious or even fatal fall-related accident could happen. Yet according to a recent article in The New York Times, not only can social isolation increase a senior’s risk of suffering a fall injury when that senior is living alone, but social isolation can also put a senior at increased risk of a fall-related injury in assisted-living facilities and nursing homes.
In short, having fewer people around—friends and family members—can make it more likely that an elderly adult will suffer a fall. Given that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significantly more social isolation for older adults, the pandemic ultimately could lead to more serious and fatal fall injuries among seniors.
New Study Shows Socially Isolated Seniors are More Likely to Fall
The recent article in The New York Times cites a study published in Scientific Reports that shows “living alone or being socially isolated may increase the risk for falls in older people.” The authors of the study looked at data from more than 4,000 men over the age of 60 who had fallen and nearly 9,300 who had been hospitalized after a fall-related injury. In surveying these older adults, the researchers gave each of the participants “a score on a scale of social isolation ranging from zero to six, with six indicating the fewest social contacts.” In addition, the seniors were surveyed about their own sense of social isolation and thus “were also graded on a similar scale to measure how lonely they felt.”
The key finding was that seniors who are more socially isolated and lonelier than other seniors are more likely to suffer a fall-related injury. Older adults who scored a 6 on the social isolation scale (making them the most socially isolated) were, according to the authors of the study, “24% more likely to fall than those with a score of zero.” Loneliness alone was not a significant factor in predicting the likelihood of a fall, but loneliness in combination with social isolation and “other variables” could play a role in fall risk.
The risk of a fall-related injury requiring hospitalization was “36% higher among those with the least social contact,” according to The New York Times article.
Contact a Los Angeles County Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Today
If you have an elderly loved one in a nursing home or assisted-living facility in Los Angeles County, you should be able to expect the facility to provide a high quality of care regardless of increased needs of the COVID-19 pandemic. If someone you love sustained a fall-related injury at a nursing home or assisted-living facility, you should seek advice from a Los Angeles County nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Walton Law Firm to speak with an advocate about your case.
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