Falls are a major issue among nursing home residents because nearly one-third result in injury, and a new study has found that certain residents may be at an even greater risk for dangerous falls. According to researchers, people in nursing homes with dementia who take a class of antidepressant medication known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are more likely to be involved in a fall-related accident.
After analyzing nursing home fall rates between 2006 and 2008, researchers found a three-fold increase in fall-related injuries among residents prescribed a daily antidepressant regimen versus those who were not. This increase in risk translates to a fall rate of about three falls per person per year. The study also revealed that when nursing home residents are given sedative drugs, like sleeping aids, they are even more likely to suffer a fall.
While nursing home administrators have always been concerned about reducing the frequency of fall-related accidents, experts say they will now have to consider developing new protocols to handle the increased risk of falling among residents taking antidepressants. The most commonly reported injuries resulting from falls included hip fractures, sprains, bruises, swelling, and open wounds.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly three-quarters of people in nursing homes experience injury-related falls each year, double the rate of falls for older adults living in the community at large. Additionally, it has been reported that roughly 50 percent of nursing home residents have been diagnosed with dementia.