Maryland Leads the Way with Fall Prevention for Elderly

By Nursing Home Law Center


For many years, Maryland has led the way in protecting the elderly by preventing falling that often leads to serious injuries or death. The Maryland Fall Prevention advisory group has formed partnerships and organizations to fund fall prevention programs in an effort to reduce the total number of falls and fall-related injury occurring within the state. This is involved creating awareness and effective proven strategies as to prevent falling throughout a person’s lifespan.

The group has funded support activities and developed effective strategies to address falling scenarios among the aging population. In addition, they have coordinated statewide programs including an annual Fall Prevention Awareness Week occurring each September in the state. In addition, they have assisted task forces to develop and implement Fall Prevention Protocols that in 2012 was submitted to the state’s General Assembly in Annapolis.

The fall prevention program is designed to help aging senior citizens by offering direct services and community-wide training and education to professionals and consumers. Their effort has allowed them to reach the goal of reducing the total numbers of accidental falls occurring every year among senior citizens.

The direct services they provide to older adults often include an in-home assessment, consultation and any recommendation to develop a personalized fall prevention strategy. This can include lifestyle improvements, environmental modifications and community-related resource referrals.

Preventing a Slip and Fall at a Nursing Home

State and federal law mandates that every nursing home resident receive adequate trained supervision in every necessary assisted device that can prevent or avoid a slip and fall accident. Any individual being admitted to a nursing home must be fully evaluated by the administrators, management and medical team. The evaluation can assess the needs of the patient to assist in developing a plan of care. Usually, the plan is formulated by conditions and restrictions of the person’s health and limitations including their potential of falling.

When elderly individuals fall in a slip or trip accident, the injuries they endure tend to be significantly more severe compared to younger adults. In fact, senior citizens heal slower and any slip and fall injury may cause permanent damage. In addition, they can develop a heightened fear of falling, which can lead to social isolation, depression, and an overwhelming sensation of helplessness. Common causes of a slip and fall incident that occurs in a nursing home often involves:

  • Poor lighting
  • Wet floors
  • Clutter and debris in walkways
  • Tripping hazards appearing in hallways in rooms
  • Improperly fitted or maintained wheelchairs
  • Missing bed rails
  • Placing the bed at an improper height
  • Certain prescription drugs including psychoactive medications
  • Understaffing or poorly trained staff leading to inadequate supervision
  • Challenges when moving patients or providing assistance to use the restroom for toileting or showering
  • The use of restraints
  • Gait issues or weakness when walking associated with dehydration or malnutrition
  • Not answering call buttons due to a lack of training or insufficient staff
  • Malfunctioning call buttons
  • Poor foot care

Steps to Take to Help in Fall Prevention

Family members and friends can take preventative measures as a way to diminish the potential of a loved one being injured in a slip and fall incident. Protective steps often involve developing an effective fall prevention plan that could include:

  • Consult with the resident’s physician to discuss rehabilitation programs and physical conditioning options to help improve the love one’s strength and endurance. This might include physical therapies, walking programs or other activity.

  • Make a formal request with the doctor to make physical modifications that can improve the resident’s safety and mobility while at the nursing facility. This might include installing handrails, grab bars, raised toilet seat and properly setting the height of the bed.

  • Ensure that the loved one receives routine eye checkups and has access to assistive devices including canes, walkers and wheelchairs.

By producing a safe environment inside the nursing facility, the resident is less likely to be injured in a slip and fall incident.

For information about injuries in Maryland nursing homes, such as falls and bed sores, view the page here.

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