Falling in adults 65 and older is a complex problem confronting public health, the health care system and families. Statistics alone do not begin to measure the pain, suffering and loss of independence that are experienced by older adults who fall, but a number of trends highlight the magnitude of the problem: *
Falling accounts for 80-95% of hip fractures in older adults. *
The rate of fatal falls increases dramatically with age. *
Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths for older adults. *
Among adults 75 and older, those who fall are four to five times more likely to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or longer. (Mission Hospital Data, Risk Management, 2012)
For decades, hospitals and other health care organizations have integrated to understand the contributing causes of falls, to minimize their occurrence and resulting injuries or deaths. Today, organizations have begun reaching out to each other for collaboration on the best ways to prevent falls. Based on Centers for Disease and Prevention (2012) data, each year one in three older Americans (65 and older) falls and about 30% of those falls require medical treatment. Falls are not only the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries but also the most common cause of hospital admission for trauma. More than $19 billion annually is spent on treating the elderly for the adverse effects of falls: $12 billion for hospitalization, $4 billion for emergency department visits, and $3 billion for outpatient care. Most of these expenses are paid for by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services through Medicare. It is projected that direct treatment costs from elder falls will escalate to $43.8 billion annually by 2020. (www.cdc.gov ).
Because unanticipated falls by nature cannot be prevented, the goal is to create an environment that would reduce injury, should a fall occur. Our current rates for falls from January...
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