Our home care programs have focused on reducing falls and rehospitalizations, using evidence-based interventions. Now, with over a year’s worth of data and hundreds of clients served, we have results showing that we can significantly reduce these primary issues that impact elders and their families.
Why are we focussing so much on fall prevention? We will share why fall prevention is so vital to aging well below. We truly believe that this is the single most important aging tip we can all use to ensure we live our later years as we wish. Here’s why!
Five Reasons Fall Prevention is the Key to Aging Wisely
1. Falls are the #1 cause of injury in older adults. Therefore, they are the most likely thing to derail your plans and spur on decline.
A person 65 or older suffers a fall in the U.S. every second of every day. Falls are the number one cause of emergency room visits among older adults. Falls account for about 45–50% of injury-related inpatient stays with up to a million hospitalizations/year. Fractures are the most common injury, and injury is associated with decreased quality of life and poor functional outcomes.
Falls have serious consequences for elders (and their families), such as the following:
- Physical: fractures, disability, pain, and reduced functioning (ability to perform activities of daily living, mobility).
- Social: increased financial burden, disruption to daily routine, isolation/loss of social contacts.
- Psychological: stress due to uncertainties and inability to live independently, fear of falling, loss of self-esteem.
Therefore, fall prevention has a serious role in maintaining quality of life as one ages. We have all heard stories or know people who were independent and doing well, then had a fall, broke a hip and never really recovered. These are more than anecdotes, though, as the data leaves no doubt about the negative impact of falls and the benefits of fall prevention.
2. Fall prevention can keep you out of a care facility.
Falls are one of the most common reasons someone will need to move to an ALF (Assisted Living Facility) or end up in a nursing home. Falls are likely to lead to a visit to the ER, hospitalization, broken hip, or other consequences that are harder on elders. Recovery is not easy when you’re older, especially if you have other medical conditions.
It is a shame that simple fall prevention interventions could keep so many elders from moving to care facilities, a result they often dread. Too many times in fearing “losing independence” by admitting potential concerns, elders put themselves at risk of the exact thing they hope to avoid. When approached as a way to support an elder’s independence, they may be more open to fall prevention and the associated changes.
3. Falls are one of the most preventable problems that come with aging. Therefore, simple fall prevention steps can have a significant impact on quality of life, costs and more.
EasyLiving has worked on honing our home care programs to specific interventions for fall prevention and reducing hospitalizations. We do fall risk assessments for our clients, along with home safety reviews. These proactive fall prevention steps are built on the data about fall risks.
Implementing these fall prevention interventions has significantly reduced falls and hospitalizations for our clients. We can show that fall prevention has had an impact on our clients beyond even what we would have predicted.
4. Falls affect all seniors, regardless of gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and other health conditions.
Unfortunately, falls are the great equalizer in aging. No one is immune. Therefore, fall prevention can help everyone. Fall prevention can often be as simple as decluttering and removing throw rugs…i.e. no cost! Our fall risk assessment often identifies simple underlying issues that can be resolved with better medical management. In fact, fall prevention is a huge cost-saver because it helps avoid more expensive care and costly crises.
5. Fall prevention intersects with many other “aging tips” — it is all about good health and overall wellness.
For example, medication side effects or interactions may cause falls. Meanwhile, they can cause numerous other health issues. So, medication reviews and proper management are both fall prevention and general good aging advice. Another example is nutrition. Elders need proper nutrition to stay strong and healthy so it’s always one of our top aging tips. If an older adult doesn’t eat properly (including more nutrients as they age), they’ll have reduced muscle strength and bone mass loss. Therefore, they’ll be more prone to injury. On the flip side, a fall may lead to decline which may also make preparing meals more difficult or cause loss of appetite.
You can see how fall prevention and other factors interact to affect an elder’s overall health and happiness.