An independent evaluation has shown that counties that participated in the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York’s Step Up to Stop Falls initiative experienced significant decreases in the rates of adults over age 65 hospitalized due to falls, while New York State as a whole did not, Interim President Amber L. Slichta announced on national Falls Prevention Awareness Day, September 23, 2015.
Each year, nationwide, one in every three adults over age 65 falls and one in 10 falls end up in a hospitalization. According to the New York State Health Department, 140 older New Yorkers are hospitalized due to a fall each day, costing $1.7 billion on hospitalization charges each year.
Since 2007, the Health Foundation has invested nearly $3 million to prevent falls, one of the most critical, and preventable, triggers of decline. Over the last eight years, coalitions and organizations in seven counties, including Erie County, have worked to prevent falls by implementing a variety of programs, including exercise programs, home assessment and modification programs, community awareness and education programs. Coalitions also made an effort to educate health care providers about falls risks, assessments and interventions.
According to the independent evaluation of the Step Up to Stop Falls initiative conducted by Mary Gallant, Ph.D., at the School of Public Health at the State University of New York at Albany, in counties that participated in Step Up to Stop Falls, the rate of hospitalization from unintentional falls went from an average of 2,108 per 100,000 residents to 1,762 per 100,000 residents from 2005 to 2013. The rate across New York State for that same time period went from an average of 1,974 per 100,000 residents to 1,908 per 100,000 residents.
“Falls can threaten older adults’ safety and independence, but the good news is they can be prevented,” Slichta said. “By taking a few simple steps, older adults can control their risks and remain healthy, active members of the community. Falls prevention programs save lives and save money.”