Innovative Programs to Prevent Falls

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that one-third of people over the age of 65 experience a fall each year, accounting for roughly 3 million visits to the ER and almost $30 billion in direct medical costs. The CDC is anticipating this number to reach an alarming $67.7 billion by 2020.

According to The Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (VDARS), 22% of fall injuries for people aged 65 and older happened when the individual slipped or tripped on a level surface. Falls from stairs or steps accounted for 5% of fall injuries, and falls from chairs or beds accounted for 2%. Luckily, most falls don’t result in serious injury and can be avoided by minimizing hazards inside the home, including adding better lighting, ensuring rugs and carpeting are affixed to the floor properly, fixing cracks in the driveway, and eliminating general clutter (please read our blog post on this subject for more details.) However, despite proactive prevention methods in the home, falls do still occur, and they can have a major psychological impact on seniors. In fact, roughly 25% of people aged 75 or over unnecessarily restrict their activities because of fear of falling.

According to a study published by the National Council on Aging (NCOA), entitled “Findings and Lessons Learned from State Coalitions on Fall Prevention,” health care providers aren’t focused on prevention as much as treatment for falls. The findings show that health care providers often don’t ask about falls, and seniors don’t tell their health-care providers about falls, as they are too embarrassed, ashamed, or afraid of losing their independence. For more details on how to talk to your doctor about falls, please see this resource on the subject.

The NCOA study shows that many states understand the toll that age will have on their residents, both physically and financially, and are stepping in to spread awareness in an effort to minimize the damage caused by age-related falls. Below are a few innovative programs various states are using to educate seniors on fall prevention:

  • Virginia: In response to the need to improve efficiencies and address long-term support for seniors, the Virginia Division for the Aging established No Wrong Door. No Wrong Door provides older adults and adults with disabilities with comprehensive information, including fall prevention education, and streamlined access to available long term supports. The program helps older adults and individuals with disabilities live in the environment of their choice, improving efficiencies and addressing long-term support according to each individual’s unique situation.
  • Pennsylvania: In collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, researchers have been studying two specific programs that are currently in place: Healthy Steps for Older Adults, a four-hour workshop, and Healthy Steps in Motion, an eight week exercise program design. The researchers found that these programs have helped to reduce elderly falls by 17%.
  • Wisconsin: Researchers in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, created a program called the Lifestyle and Functional Exercise program, or LiFE. LiFE is an in-home program for people aged 70 and better that uses exercise in seemingly mundane daily activities, like balancing on one leg while brushing their teeth.
  • Kansas: The Regional Institute on Aging at Wichita State University in Kansas put together the Falling Less in Kansas Toolkit. The 56-page, spiral-bound toolkit — also available online — aims to help seniors assess their risk of falls and develop a solution for seniors to avoid falls through exercises focused on balance, a medication side-effects inventory, identifying vision problems and increasing home safety. While the toolkit was designed for people to use on their own, the program encourages caregivers and medical professionals to get involved in the process as well.
  • New York: The Health Foundation for Western and Central New York created a Fall Prevention: Step Up to Stop Falls program, which offers a helpful toolkit and grants to local agencies to help them better prevent falls by targeting the major risk factors and by educating doctors, home healthcare workers and family caregivers.
  • Ohio: The Ohio Department of Aging implemented a state-wide initiative called Steady U, which focuses on fall prevention with a community approach and states clearly on their website that “everyone — from the individual and his family, to doctors and nurses, to business owners and managers, to community leaders and more — has a role to play in preventing falls.” They offer a host of resources to back this statement up, including tip sheets, websites, government partner agencies, PowerPoint presentations and promotional materials.

On a national level, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched the STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries) Tool Kit for Health Care Providers. In addition, the CDC is coordinating efforts and seeking financial support to launch a falls prevention campaign with the Ad Council. For more details and for CDC fall prevention resources, including older adult falls prevention guides for health care professionals, brochures, posters, podcasts, and more, visit the CDC website.

When taking preventative measures isn’t enough, assisted living or nursing home care may be needed for your loved one. Nursing homes in Fairfax, Virginia and the rest of Northern Virginia can cost as much as $198,000 per year, while Fredericksburg, Virginia nursing homes and nursing homes in and the rest of Virginia can cost as much as $105,000 per year.

The Medicaid Asset Protection Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. handles Life Care Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection, which is the process of protecting you or your loved ones from having to go broke to pay for nursing home care, while also helping ensure that you or your loved ones get the best possible care and maintain the highest possible quality of life, whether at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home. Learn more at The Fairfax Medicaid and Fredericksburg Medicaid Asset Protection Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. website. Call 703-691-1888 in Fairfax and 540-479-1435 in Fredericksburg to make an appointment for an introductory consultation.

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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