COA joins statewide campaign to prevent falls among older Ohioans

Thursday, October 31, 2013

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Falls are the number one cause of injuries leading to ER visits, hospital stays and deaths among Ohioans age 65 and older.  And, falls and fall-related injuries cost Ohio more than $4.2 billion each year. 

To educate Ohioans of all ages about the risks of falling, the state has launched a fall prevention campaign called STEADY U.  The campaign’s overriding theme: Falls are not a natural part of the aging process and most falls can be prevented.   Council on Aging is supporting STEADY U through the implementation of a risk assessment and education campaign among state-funded in-home and assisted living program clients.

Beginning in November, Council on Aging care managers will use a new falls risk assessment tool to evaluate clients in state-funded in-home care and assisted living programs, including PASSPORT and the Assisted Living Waiver programs.  Clients in these programs are generally frail and severely disabled and therefore most at risk for a fall.   Clients will be assessed at the time of enrollment with reassessments and fall prevention education occuring on an annual basis.  

The falls risk assessment will help identify individuals at risk for falls, provide education on fall prevention and referrals for further assessment or treatment as necessary.   Depending on the outcome of an assessment, care managers may order assistive devices (walkers, bath benches, raised toilet seats), arrange for home modifications (bathroom grab bars, handrails, step repair), and/or make referrals for occupational or physical therapy.  Care managers may also consult with clients’ physicians, pharmacists, optometrists and other care providers to help reduce the risk of a fall.

During the assessment, care managers will review a fall prevention fact sheet with clients and talk about things that can be done in the home to prevent a fall and help ease the fear of falling, including: eliminating hazards in the home; the benefits of regular physical activity; the need for annual vision exams; the need to review medications with a physician annually; and the importance of eating well and staying hydrated.

Impact of falls in Ohio

Older Ohioans account for a disproportionate share of fall-related injuries. While Ohioans age 65 and older make up only 13.7 percent of our population, they account for more than 80 percent of fatal falls. 

  • For about 1 in 3 older Ohioans, falls lead to injuries that result in a doctor visit or restricted activity.
  • Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls. Falls account for more than 90 percent of all accidental hip fractures.
  • Fall-related emergency room-visit and inpatient hospitalization rates are higher for falls than all other injuries combined.
  • The risk of falling increases significantly after age 75.

Statistics provided by Ohio Department of Aging – Steady U Ohio