If your aging parent resides in a New Jersey nursing home, his or her safety, welfare, comfort and contentment are always on your mind. Even though you probably checked out the facility thoroughly before helping your parent move in, nevertheless you keep hearing about nursing home negligence and abuse on TV and reading about it on the internet. Since you cannot visit your parent every day, you worry that (s)he could receive substandard treatment without your knowledge.
Accidents happen at even the best nursing homes, and the most common accident among elderly residents is a fall. If your parent falls and hits his or her head, (s)he may be at very high risk for sustaining a traumatic brain injury.
TBI statistics among the elderly
During a recent five-year period, emergency rooms treated over 142,000 elderly TBI victims, 81,500 of whom, amounting to 57 percent, suffered a serious enough TBI to require hospitalization. Sadly, 14,300 of these victims ultimately died. Even among those who sustained a nonfatal TBI, they exhibited more severe symptoms than younger people with similar injuries. Their symptoms also persisted longer and resulted in a poorer prognosis.
If your parent receives a blow to the head when falling, the jolt could injure his or her brain, causing it to dysfunction. That is the definition of a traumatic brain injury. Depending on which part(s) of the brain is or are injured and the severity of the injury, a TBI can have catastrophic consequences.
One of the most frightening aspects of a TBI is that symptoms do not necessarily appear immediately after the accident happens. Consequently, if you suspect that your parent sustained a fall, you may want visit him or her every day for the next week or two, if possible, and watch for the following symptoms:
- Problems speaking or using the wrong words
- Problems understanding what you say
- Inappropriate responses to your questions or comments
- Problems thinking, reasoning and/or remembering
- Unusual anxiety or depression
- Unusually cranky, aggressive or combative language or behavior
Why nursing home residents fall
Just because your parent is elderly and not as strong as (s)he used to be does not mean that (s)he wants someone to immediately take care of his or her every need or desire. (S)he still likes to do things for himself or herself whenever possible. Consequently, if (s)he needs to go to the bathroom, but her call light or buzzer remains unanswered, eventually (s)he might decide to walk to the bathroom with no assistance. The results could be devastating.
This is one of the things that can lead to nursing home residents falling: Not receiving the help they need within a reasonable period of time. If you believe this or other nursing home negligence resulted in a fall that caused a loved one to suffer a TBI, it can be wise to look into your legal options for responding to the matter.