Falls, a major cause of unintentional injury, can lead to moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas, and can even increase the risk of early death. In March 2014, the DPH Commissioner unveiled the Healthy Connecticut 2020 State Health Improvement Plan and announced that falls prevention was one of the top seven priorities for DPH in the next five years.
How big is the problem?
In Connecticut, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for Connecticut residents aged 65 years and over and the fourth leading cause for all ages.
Falls resulted in approximately 42,287 hospital discharges among Connecticut residents from 2007 to 2013.
From 2006 to 2010, the number of deaths due to falls in Connecticut was 1,579.
In addition to being the leading cause of hip fractures among older adults, falls are also the leading cause of traumatic brain injury and a leading cause of earlier admission to a nursing home.
Costs for hospital in-patient discharge due to falls totaled over $1.1 billion from 2007 to 2013, not including the costs of long-term care or rehabilitation.
The total cost of emergency department encounters from 2007 to 2012 was $523 million.
Many falls can be prevented. Studies show that a combination of measures can significantly reduce the risk of falling, and increasing awareness of the key measures that older adults can take to reduce their risk is important.
FALLS AND OLDER ADULTS
There are a variety of reasons why an older adult might fall. These may include biological, behavioral, and environmental factors. These risk factors include:
The Connecticut Department of Public Health recommends the following actions to help prevent falls:
Begin a regular exercise program, especially one that increases balance, strength, and flexibility;
Consult with a health professional about getting a fall risk assessment;
Have all medications, prescription and over-the-counter, reviewed periodically for drug interactions that could lead to falls;
Get your vision checked at least annually by an eye doctor; and
Make your home safer by reducing tripping hazards, installing handrails and grab bars and improving lighting
The Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant (PHHSBG) provides all 50 states, the District of Columbia, 2 American Indian tribes, and 8 US territories with funding to address their unique public health needs in innovative and locally defined ways. This program gives grantees the flexibility to use funds to respond rapidly to emerging health issues and to fill funding gaps in programs that deal with leading causes of death and disability.
PHHSBG funding is currently provided to local health departments in Connecticut to address the risk factors for falls among older adults including environmental hazards, medication interactions and physical inactivity. Strategies include home safety assessments to identify and correct injury hazards, provision of safety supplies, fall prevention seminars and exercise classes, medication safety reviews, and training for service providers.
For more information, please call
The Office of Injury Prevention