Falls among elderly reduced by state program

March 13, 2014

A low-cost program reduced falls in the elderly by 17 percent statewide, illustrating the value and effectiveness of using existing aging services, such as senior centers, in preventing falls, a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health study determined.

Pitt Public Health researchers followed nearly 2,000 older Pennsylvanians between 2010 and 2011 to determine the effectiveness of the state's Healthy Steps for Older Adults, a voluntary fall-prevention program. Results of the study, funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), will be published in the May issue of the American Journal of Public Health and are now available online.

"There is a high prevalence of falls among people 65 and older that increases with age, as does the inability to get up after a fall," said lead author Steven Albert, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at Pitt Public Health. "A challenge for officials is to decrease the risk of falls without encouraging reduced physical activity. Our research shows that the Healthy Steps for Older Adults program is a successful tool to help reduce falls."

According to the CDC, one in three adults aged 65 and older falls each year and, of those who fall, 20 to 30 percent suffer moderate to severe injuries that make it hard for them to live independently, and increase their risk of early death.

By 2020, the CDC estimates, the annual direct and indirect cost of fall injuries will reach $67.7 billion.

Healthy Steps for Older Adults, run by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, offers risk screening for falls and educational information regarding fall prevention, for adults 50 years and older. Participants who are identified as high risk for falls are referred to primary care providers and encouraged to complete home , which identify modification—including banisters and grab bars—to reduce hazards in their homes that might put them at greater risk for falls.

The program is designed to be administered by volunteers at senior centers to keep costs low. Between 2010 and 2011, the state reimbursed the centers $70 per person for delivering the program, allocating $1.2 million to the program as a whole.

Dr. Albert and his co-authors recruited 814 older adults at senior centers statewide to complete the program, and compared them to 1,019 counterparts who did not. The average age of study participants was 75.4 years.

Of those who completed the program and were informed they were at high risk for falls, 21.5 percent followed up with physicians. More than three-quarters of program participants at high risk conducted assessments, and a third went on to reduce home hazards.

"Though further analyses will be necessary to understand specifically how these actions translated into a 17 percent reduction in falls, it appears that referrals for physician care and home safety assessments, along with informing of their high-risk status and heightening their sensitivity to situations involving a risk of falling, may lead to reductions in ," said Dr. Albert.

Explore further: Medication to treat high blood pressure associated with fall injuries in elderly

Related Stories

Medication to treat high blood pressure associated with fall injuries in elderly

February 24, 2014
Medication to treat high blood pressure (BP) in older patients appears to be associated with an increased risk for serious injury from falling such as a hip fracture or head injury, especially in older patients who have been ...

Risk of hospitalized fall injury up for seniors with diabetes

November 20, 2013
(HealthDay)—Older adults with diabetes, especially those treated with insulin, are at increased risk of injurious falls requiring hospitalization, according to a study published online Oct. 15 in Diabetes Care.

NSU researcher receives US Patent for developing fall prevention model

December 3, 2013
Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults, resulting in approximately ...

Exercise programs could help to prevent fall injuries in older people

October 30, 2013
Exercise programmes designed to prevent falls in older adults also appear to prevent injuries caused by falls, suggests a paper published today in BMJ.

Intervention helps older adults prepare for emergencies

October 21, 2013
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three adults age 65 and older falls at least once every year. These falls can result in moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas, ...

Falls don't have to be part of getting older, experts argue

September 27, 2013
Falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries among older people, but experts from The University of Manchester argue they should not just be written off as an unavoidable consequence of ageing. According to the researchers ...

Recommended for you

Study finds 275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures from 2000 through 2012

July 24, 2017
U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to a new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, ...

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

App lets patients work alone or with others to prevent, monitor, and reverse chronic disease

July 24, 2017
Lack of patient adherence to treatment plans is a lingering, costly problem in the United States. But MIT Media Lab spinout Twine Health is proving that regular interventions from a patient's community of supporters can greatly ...

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.