National Falls Prevention Awareness Day ~ September 23, 2015
Bernadette Keefe MD
“One of every three older adults falls each year, but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.” – Lawrence Z. Rubenstein MD, MPH Chair Geriatrics – U. of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Tomorrow, September 23, 2015, the U.S. will celebrate the 8th Annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day. The announcement on the National Council for Aging (NCOA) Falls Prevention Day website reads:
“The 8th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day (FPAD) will be observed on September 23, 2015 – the first day of fall. The event seeks to raise awareness about how to prevent fall – related injuries among older adults. The 2015 theme is Take A Stand to Prevent Falls and the official twitter hashtag for this year’s event is #FPAD15
Dr. Robert Glatter wrote an excellent piece in Forbes this year “Why Falls Should Be Part of The Doctor – Patient And National Conversation for Older Persons. In the piece he high-lighted the shocking falls statistics in the U.S.:
- one third of older adults over the age of 65 fall each year
- 2 million older adults present to the emergency department (ED) because of falls each year
- …over 700,000 of whom are hospitalized ( costing over $30 billion ),
- CDC data for 2013: 2.5 million non- fatal falls treated in ED
- CDC data for 2013: 25,000 older adults died as direct result of a fall
I highly recommend his entire article as an excellent introduction to your reading on falls prevention.
All of the above statistics have sharply worsened over the past 10 years (partly due to increased awareness of reporting and increased longevity) In fact people are falling younger than age 65 with more frequency (alcohol, medication, decreased fitness are key factors here) A recent falls prevention awareness campaign infographic highlighted this by addressing its message to the over age 55 population!
Risk factors for falling at any age include: altered perception/coordination due to alcohol or drugs/medications, decreased visual acuity, poor fitness, hazards in the built environment around us, distraction (ie walking while texting etc).
KEY Consequences of Falls to Patients/People
- Injury, even death.
- Fear of falling again – affects quality of life, mobility, ability to socialize. Also a ‘downhill” spiraling effect ( avoidance of activity/exercise to increase fitness/balance) leading to adage: “If You Think You’ll Fall – You Will! “
Resources for Falls Prevention Strategies
There are numerable trusted sources for Falls Prevention Strategies. Please see the reference list below to get informed on some of what is available. Please talk to your physician, geriatrician about any questions or worries.
Technology for Falls Prevention
The aging demographic (over age 65) will comprise 77 million American adults by 2030. Almost for this reason alone numerous technologies have been released or are in development to make aging (in general safer) and aging-in-place a reality.
From personal sensors (on the body, in shoes etc) to home sensors (monitor movement) to bed sensors to completely wired /sensored living environments for aging – the innovation is robust. However, most sensors at this point are focused on falls detection. What we are in desperate need of is technology to assist with falls prevention.
Falls prevention technologies are available to the athlete in the form of extensive gait analysis, balance and foot strike assessment. My hope is that this technology will filter over to mainstream applications, in the “ordinary” patient. The consequences of falling are too serious not to offer the best technologies to all people.
Please see the category: Aging in place, Active Aging: Technology, Startups , Hackathons in the reference list below for more information about this vibrant and essential innovation space.
Falls over the age of 55 are common, and over the age of 65 become a serious, deadly problem.
Take steps now to avoid falling yourself! Take steps now to prevent falls in your loved ones. (Use upcoming holidays to take a walk through ALL of the house, including garage & remove hazards, arrange for installation banisters etc.)
‘Have The Conversation” with a trusted healthcare professional (physician etc) if you or your loved one fears falling or has fallen.
Raise awareness about our national Falls Prevention Day – the first day of fall every year.
Get involved in local governance regarding the built environment and pedestrian safety. Strollers, toddlers, mult families, young & older persons w/ physical limitations, people on walkers, using canes, in wheelchairs…be aware of access issues for them and hazards.
Peruse the references below & keep handy at home for Falls Prevention!
If You Think You’ll Fall, You Will!
Falls Prevention Awareness
Falls Prevention 2015 https://www.ncoa.org/healthy-aging/falls-prevention/
Get Ready for Falls Prevention Awareness Day with These 5 Resources http://www.apta.org/PTinMotion/News/2015/9/9/FallsResources/
Why Falls Should Be Part of the Doctor – Patient And National Conversation For Older Persons http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertglatter/2015/07/28/why-falls-should-be-part-of-the-doctor-patient-and-national-conversation-for-older-persons/
Falls In The Elderly – Just Not Sexy Enough? https://bernadettekeefemd.com/2015/05/26/falls-the-elderly-just-not-sexy-enough/
Bracing for Falls of An Aging Nation http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/03/health/bracing-for-the-falls-of-an-aging-nation.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage®ion=CColumn&module=MostEmailed&version=Full&src=me&WT.nav=MostEmailed&_r=1
Strategies to prevent falls
Falls Free – NCOA : 6 Steps to Protect Your Older Loved One https://www.ncoa.org/wp-content/uploads/FPAD-2013-6-Steps-to-Protect-Your-Older-Loved-One.pdf
CDC Information on Falls Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/steadi/
The STEADI initiative (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries) http://www.cdc.gov/steadi/
American Geriatrics Society – Health in Aging Foundation – Falls http://www.healthinaging.org/search/?q=falls
SGEM: #89 – Preventing Falling to Pieces http://thesgem.com/2014/10/sgem89-preventing-falling-to-pieces/
Video Demonstrating the Sit-To-Stand Challenge https://video.buffer.com/v/55f73e8d010fbb5b7c1c730c?utm_content=bufferba5df&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
Translating Research Into Action: Go4Life Month Promotes Exercise https://www.nia.nih.gov/research/blog/2015/08/translating-research-action-go4life-month-promotes-exercise
Interventions for preventing falls in older people living in the community http://www.cochrane.org/CD007146/MUSKINJ_interventions-for-preventing-falls-in-older-people-living-in-the-community
Aging in America: Insurers Seek Ways to Slow Worrisome Rise in Seniors Who Fall http://www.ibtimes.com/aging-america-health-insurers-seek-ways-slow-worrisome-rise-seniors-who-fall-2046870
Falls Reduction and Exercise Training in an Assisted Living Facility http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4541005/
Recommendations for preventing fracture in long-term care (Canada) http://www.cmaj.ca/content/early/2015/09/14/cmaj.141331
Small data from patients at home will mean big cost savings http://www.economist.com/news/business/21652327-small-data-patients-home-will-mean-big-cost-savings-bedside-manners
Aging-In-Place/Active Aging: Technology , Startups, Hackathons
The 100 Year Lifespan https://bernadettekeefemd.com/2015/07/15/the-100-year-lifespan/
Technology, while not a fountain of youth, can make aging safer http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/25/your-money/technology-while-not-a-fountain-of-youth-can-make-aging-safer.html
Live-in lab to test aging-in-place technology http://breakthroughs.kera.org/a-live-in-lab-to-test-aging-in-place-technology/
Mobile Safety Products that Can Help Seniors on the Go http://www.daily-journal.com/life/advice/mobile-safety-products-that-can-help-seniors-on-the-go/article_7d5443d0-4b27-5e4f-a25b-6eee68f526e2.html?mode=print
Aging in Place Gadgets : Gadgets that Help You Stay Home Longer https://www.caring.com/checklists/useful-gadgets-for-elderly
Slide-show: 7 technologies working to prevent falls http://mobihealthnews.com/20351/slide-show-7-technologies-working-to-prevent-falls/print/
Is Digital Health Leaving Senior Fitness Behind? http://wellnessforce.com/resource/is-digital-health-leaving-senior-fitness-behind/?utm_source=ReviveOldPost&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=ReviveOldPost
The Future of Elder Care: Robots, Smart Homes, and Other Aging In Place Technologies https://www.beaconreader.com/jenna-owsianik/the-future-of-elder-care-robots-smart-homes-and-other-aging-in-place-technologies?utm_content=buffer58fee&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
Proto-typing the age-ready city http://www.citylab.com/commute/2015/09/prototyping-the-age-ready-city/405100/
Best Technology Assisted Aging in Place Cities http://seniorcarecorner.com/technology-assisted-living-cities
Aging #30in30in30 World Tour Wants to Find Best Startups for Seniors http://techcrunch.com/2015/08/28/aging-30tour/
Cautionary Note: Use It OR Lose It
The End of Walking: Step by step Americans are Sacrificing their right to walk http://aeon.co/magazine/society/step-by-step-americans-are-sacrificing-the-right-to-walk/?Src=longreads
Test shows how old your body really is. http://www.bbc.com/news/health-34153135