Prevent Falls in Older Adults

Prevent Falls in Older Adults

Many Vermonters are affected by falls at some point in their life. People 65 years and older are increasingly at risk of falling and, therefore, potential injury. As we age, we are more likely to be injured in a fall.
 
But falls are not a normal part of aging and can be prevented ‚Äď there are many ways to stay strong and independent as you age.
 
 

Facts About Falls

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls among older adults are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal unintentional injuries in the United States. Falling is also the leading cause of emergency department visits for older adults.

One out of three older people fall each year, but fewer than half tell their doctor about falling. This doubles the chance of falling again. The average hospital cost for a fall injury is over $30,000, and more than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling. Over one-third (35%) of Vermont adults age 65 and older reported falling at least once in the last 12 months.

In Vermont, unintentional falls are the leading cause of injury-related death overall, and responsible for the largest number of injury-related hospitalizations and emergency department visits. Falls are responsible for an average of 137 deaths each year and an average of 1,934 hospitalizations each year (Injury and Violence in Vermont Burden Document, 2018).

Find more important Facts about Falls from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention or visit the Health Department's Injury Data webpage. 

Looking for local falls prevention resources? The Vermont Department of Health, along with the Falls Free Vermont Coalition, offers the Vermont Falls Prevention Resource Guide. The guide offers suggestions on appropriate referrals and up-to-date listings of resources statewide.

For Older Adults
While falls are the leading cause of injury for people 65 years of age and older, falls are NOT an inevitable part of aging.
 
You may be at higher risk of falls, if:
  • You have fallen more than once in the last year.
  • You have been injured in a fall in the last year.
  • You have fallen in the past three months.
  • You sometimes lose your balance or nearly fall.

Falls can be PREVENTED. Here is what you can do:

  • Talk to your doctor: Even if falling isn't a serious problem, your doctor can address any concerns, review your medications, and help you to know what you can do to reduce your risk for falls.
  • Check your risk for falling: There are many reasons people fall, and a single fall is usually a result of multiple factors. This self-assessment can help you consider your risk.
  • Consider Vitamin D: Research shows that Vitamin D supplementation is one¬†way¬†to prevent falls. Talk to your primary care provider about whether Vitamin D is right for you.
  • Check for safety: Make your home a place that is safe for you and others. Follow this guide.
  • Improve balance and strength: Stay strong with balance and strength exercises, such as Tai Chi.
For Medical Professionals

An important part of successful falls prevention in older adults is a strong provider-patient relationship.

Studies show that a combination of behavior changes can significantly reduce falls among older adults. Experts recommend:

  • Participating in a physical activity regimen with balance, strength training, and flexibility components.
  • Consulting with a health professional about getting a falls risk assessment.
  • Having medications reviewed regularly.
  • Getting eyes and ears checked annually.
  • Making sure the home environment is safe and supportive.

Incorporate falls prevention into your older adult patient care:

  1. Talk with your older patients about falls and fall prevention ‚Äď even if they don't raise the subject themselves.
  2. Consider integrating falls risk screenings and/or assessments into your electronic health record,
  3. Know how to refer your patients who are at risk for falls.
  4. Be ready to offer information on nutrition, vision, medication review, or other factors that can contribute to falls risk.

Looking for printable materials? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries (STEADI) initiative offers patient fact sheets, provider pocket guides, and more on its website. Look for information on postural hypotension, simple exercises, and home assessment. 

About Falls Free Vermont

The Falls Free Vermont Coalition is a network of service organizations and health care providers committed to helping older Vermonters to age in healthy ways and to prevent falls from occurring. Please visit their website at www.fallsfreevermont.com for information about falls prevention classes in your area, as well as resources to improve the safety of your home. These resources can help to significantly reduce your risk of falling and connect you to organizations and providers who will improve your quality of life and help you to live safely in your home.

Interested in joining the Falls Free Vermont Coalition and referral network? If you‚Äôre interested in being included in the resource guide and referral network or joining the Falls Free Vermont Coalition, contact the Falls Prevention Program at [email protected]¬†or call (802) 863-7596.

Contact Us
Falls Prevention Program
TEL 802-863-7596
FAX 802-863-7511