- Every 15 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 29 minutes, an older adult dies following a fall.
- Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, and injury deaths. Falls are the most common cause of older adult traumatic brain injuries, accounting for over 46% of fatal falls.
- In 2000, the total direct cost of all fall injuries for people aged 65+ exceeded $19 billion, or $28.2 billion in 2010 dollars. This financial toll is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $54.9 billion by 2020 (adjusted to 2007 dollars).
Proven programs for falls prevention and to reduce the fear of falling:
A Matter of Balance emphasizes practical strategies to reduce fear of falling and increase activity levels. Participants learn to view falls and fear of falling as controllable, set realistic goals to increase activity, change their environment to reduce fall risk factors, and exercise to increase strength and balance. This program has been adapted from the original intervention to be more suitable for community-dwelling older adults by allowing small group sessions to be led by a trained facilitator.
Otago is an individually tailored program of muscle-strengthening and balance-retraining exercises of increasing difficulty, combined with a walking program. This extensively tested fall prevention program is now used worldwide. The program is delivered by either a PT experienced in prescribing exercises for older adults, or a nurse who is given special training and receiving ongoing supervision from a PT.
Stepping On is a multifaceted falls-prevention program for the community-residing elderly. About 30% of older people who fall lose their self-confidence and start to go out less often. Inactivity leads to social isolation and loss of muscle strength and balance, increasing the risk of falling. Stepping On aims to break that cycle, engaging people in a range of relevant fall preventive strategies.
Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance The program includes 24 Tai Chi forms that emphasize weight shifting, postural alignment, and coordinated movements. Synchronized breathing aligned with Tai Chi movements is also integrated into the movement routine. The program goals are to improve balance, strength, and physical performance for older adults.
Source: NCOA, Center for Healthy Aging
Other resources for Fall Prevention:
View a Media Toolkit for use by state and local partners of the State Coalitions on Fall Prevention Workgroup.