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Falls Prevention

Falls Among Older Adults

Falls and fall-related injuries can be harmful to older adults and their quality of life. Falls and fall-related injuries can also be a large burden on the Ohio healthcare system because falls increase emergency room visits, hospitalization, and chance of death among patients.

 

Why do we need to prevent falls?

Falls among older adults have become an increasingly common health problem

  • From 2000 to 2011, Ohioans aged 65 and older experienced a 167% increase in the number of falls causing death and 145% increase in the fall death rate.
  • On average, 2.6 older Ohioans suffered fatal falls each day in 2011.
  • In 2011, there were four fall-related emergency room visits for every 100 Ohio older adults and 10 fall-related hospitalizations for every 1,000 Ohio older adults.
  • Fall-related emergency room visit and hospitalization rates for Ohioans ages 65 years and older are higher than rates for all other injuries combined.
  • Ohioans ages 65 and older accounted for approximately 84% of fatal falls in 2011; while they represent only 14% of the population.
  • Risk for suffering serious injury after a fall increases dramatically with advancing age. Females 85 years and older account for half of fatal falls, while they account for only 3% of the female population.

Falls are costly

  • Falls among older adults cost Ohio and its residents $567.7 million in 2010.
    • Medical costs totaled: $360 million
    • Work-loss costs totaled: $207.7 million

 

How can older adults prevent falls?

Older adults can age gracefully at home and reduce their chances of falling. Some steps to reduce fall risk include:

  1. Exercise regularly. Focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance. The exercises should get harder over time. Tai Chi programs are very helpful.
  2. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines. Doctors can review both prescription and over-the-counter medicines to identify ones that may cause side effects or problems such as dizziness or drowsiness.
  3. Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update your eyeglasses to maximize your vision. Consider getting a pair with single-vision distance lenses for some activities, such as walking outside.
  4. Make your home safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding railings on both sides of stairways, and improving the lighting in your home.

To lower your hip fracture risk:

  • Get enough calcium and vitamin D - from food and/or from a multi-vitamin.
  • Do weight-bearing exercise.
  • Get screened and, if needed, get treated for osteoporosis.

There are simple steps that older adults can take to reduce their risk for a fall. Additional resources including checklists and brochures are available from the CDC at: http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/index.html

Additional resources for prevention of falls among older adults are needed.

Due to the large and growing burden of fall-related injury in Ohio, especially among older Ohioans over 65 years, additional resources are needed at both the state and local level to implement evidence-based prevention initiatives.

 

State Plan for Preventing Falls Among Older Adults

 

More Information

Falls Prevention Information

Steady U: Preventing Falls... One Step at a Time

Check for Safety. A Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults