Falls are among the most serious and common problems that threaten independence and quality of life for older adults. Every day in 2010, about 120 adults aged 65 and older were treated at hospitals or outpatient centers for injuries caused by falls.
Hospitalization costs to treat fall related injuries in 2010 totaled approximately $229 million. That’s about what it cost to build M & T Bank Stadium!
Recognizing that falls are one of the leading causes of injury for older adults, and that many falls can be prevented, Governor Martin O’Malley has proclaimed September 22 to 28 Fall Prevention Awareness Week in Maryland.
Falls are not an inevitable part of aging. Studies show that most falls have one or more causes related to the following:
Physical mobility problems (poor strength or balance, foot and ankle problems, arthritis, diabetes, and depression)
Vision loss or low vision
Home and environmental hazards
Fall prevention programs focus on promoting healthy behaviors and creating safe environments. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a comprehensive approach to falls prevention which includes:
The Injury Prevention Program at DHMH is engaged in several falls prevention initiatives targeted to older adults. The program, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provides a limited number of mini-grants to local health departments and area agencies on aging to implement two evidence-based programs: Tai Chi for Better Balance and Stepping On. During Fall Prevention Awareness Week, the program provides educational materials and promotional items to local agencies conducting fall prevention events.