Heartland Human Services

The Importance of Preventing Falls

 

By Linda Warner EdM Director of Case Management & Geriatric Services

 

Did you know that every year in the United States, more than ¼ of adults age 65+ have a fall, with approximately 1/5 of fallers sustaining a serious injury?  Research indicates that people who fall are 2-3 times more likely to fall again, and each fall increases the likelihood of more serious injury or even death.


Falls threaten seniors’ safety and independence.  However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging.  Through lifestyle changes, evidence-based falls prevention programs and clinical community partnerships, the number of falls among seniors can be reduced.   Falls (with or without injury) can impact a person’s quality of life.  When an older adult fears falling, that person begins to limit activities and social engagements.  This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.


According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Patient Safety and Quality (2013 data) 80,112 emergency department visits were made due to falls.  This resulted in 808 deaths and 19,907 hospitalizations.  As the population ages, the impact and cost of fall related deaths and injuries will most likely continue to increase unless funding and programming is increased to address this issue.
What can be done?  The National Council on Aging leads the National Falls Prevention Resources Center, which supports awareness and educational efforts about falls and promotes evidence-based falls prevention programs and strategies across the nation.  The purpose of the Center is to

  • increase public awareness and educate consumers and professionals about the risks of falls and how to prevent falls;
  • support and stimulate the implementation, dissemination, and sustainability of evidence-based falls prevention programs and strategies to reduce the incidence of falls among older adults and adults with disabilities; and
  • serve as the national clearinghouse of tools, best practices, and other information on falls and fall prevention.

Illinois is taking action to prevent falls through the Matter of Balance Program, an evidence-based program.   This means the program has been evaluated in two types of research and shown to have important outcomes for your health and it has been evaluated in real world situations to shown to be implemented effectively in communities with the same important benefits.

By attending A Matter of Balance Program, you will set realistic goals for staying more active, learn how to stay safe at home, complete exercises to increase strength and balance, and learn how to identify and control your fear of falling.  Staff members at Midland Area Agency on Aging are currently getting trained to organize and run A Matter of Balance Program in Clay, Effingham, Fayette, Jefferson, and Marion Counties.  Look for more information on A Matter of Balance Program in our area soon.

 

If you or a loved one are experiencing  any symptoms of depression, contact Heartland Human Services at 217-347-7179