Some elderly people move into nursing homes because they develop mobility issues. When older adults can no longer safely navigate their homes, their fall risk increases. Falls can cause fractures that lead to infections and other complications. For many seniors, moving into residential care facilities can help prevent traumatic injuries associated with falls.
Other times, older adults don't make the decision to move into nursing homes. When family members begin to notice signs of mental or physical decline in their elderly loved ones, they may realize that the senior citizens no longer have the ability to care for themselves in their present home.
A nursing home can help keep older relatives safer when they can no longer provide for their own daily needs. However, in some cases, the very people tasked with caring for older adults may be put at risk by the requirements of caring for them.
Dementia patients pose risk of physical violence
One of the reasons that family members turn to nursing homes to care for their loved ones with dementia is that these individuals often have difficulty remembering who and where they are and who provides care for them. They may regress to younger ages or completely misunderstand their current living circumstances.
It's possible for adults with dementia to feel like they are in prison or other dangerous situations. Because they don't have the ability to simply leave and do what they want, they could lash out at staff out of fear or frustration.
Although these actions don't come from a place of maliciousness, but rather self-preservation, staff can still wind up injured as a result. In fact, roughly one-tenth of all hospital-related injuries result from patient violence of some sort. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 9 percent of workplace injuries among hospital workers relate to workplace violence.
Helping patients linked to injuries
Limitations on mobility in older adults can also be a source of injury for nursing home workers. Lifting, supporting or carrying another adult puts a lot of strain on the muscles, joints and bones of nursing home workers. Overexertion is actually the leading cause of hospital worker injury. According to OSHA, it's responsible for 48 percent of hospital worker injuries.
While aging adults often need social, medical and physical supports to live safely as they age, the people who care for them can wind up injured as a result of providing the supports. Those potential injuries can leave hospital workers unable to continue their jobs until they heal.
In cases involving patient violence, workers may not be able to return to the job because of trauma. Thankfully, workers' compensation offers permanent and temporary disability coverage that extends to hospital workers injured by patient care.