September is National Rehab Awareness Month and National Fall Awareness Month! What a great combination! Who better to prevent falls in the elderly than our Home Health Rehab Teams and our nurses?
Here are some statistics from the CDC on falls:
- One out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year, but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.
- In older adults (65+), falls are the leading cause of injury-related death, and the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.
- In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in E.R.s and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized.
- In 2010, the direct medical costs of falls, adjusted for inflation, was $30.0 billion.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). In 2000, TBI accounted for 46% of fatal falls among older adults.
- Most fractures among the elderly are due to falls. The most common are fractures of the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand.
- Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, and in turn increases their actual risk of falling.
- People age 75 and older who fall are 4 to 5 times more likely than those age 65 to 74 to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or longer.
- Over 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
- Identify our patients who are at risk of falling!
- Request physician’s orders for therapy–PT, OT and SLPs can make a difference!
- Implement treatment plans that include a focus on increasing strength and improving balance.
- Review their medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.
- Make their homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, and making recommendations for adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding railings on both sides of stairways and improving the lighting in their homes. Again, your therapists can do Home Safety Evaluations!
- Recommend they have their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update their eyeglasses to maximize their vision. Your OTs can work on Low Vision issues!
Let’s keep our patients safe!
Submitted by Tricia Fox, VP Rehab Services