Aging ... and health

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Fall prevention

Each year, one in three Americans aged 65 and over falls; $28 billion a year is spent annually on treating older adults for the effects of falls.

Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for those 65 and over. Yet, falls can be prevented. Evidence-based fall prevention programs offer simple, cost-effective interventions through eliminating known risk factors, offering treatments that promote behavior change, and leveraging community networks to link clinical treatment and social services. There are several evidence-based fall prevention programs that funders can support.

  • With a $180,000 grant, The California Wellness Foundation supported the implementation of OASIS Institute’s Free from Falls program in South and East Los Angeles over a three-year period with the goal of preventing falls among low-income, primarily African-American and Latino older adults. In addition to reaching 400 participants with fall prevention and balance training programs, the grant also supported translation of the Free from Falls curriculum into Spanish and trained lay leaders to facilitate Matter of Balance, an evidence-based falls prevention program. The falls program was free to participants. Funders can bring national programs, such as Free from Falls, to the communities they serve.
  • According to the Florida Health Department, falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths, hospitalization, and emergency room visits among Orange County’s senior population. With a grant of nearly $46,000 the Winter Park Health Foundation supported a multifaceted falls prevention program that combined public awareness and educational seminars on fall prevention, the evidence-based Matter of Balance exercise classes; in-home assessments for home injury control; medication management; nutritional counseling; home modifications; and assistive devices. The program conducted 33 home assessments and held 144 Matter of Balance classes, reaching more than 160 participants. As part of National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, the Senior Resource Alliance in Orlando, FL, held an educational event that attracted over 100 seniors and 10 health care providers that conducted a variety of free health screenings.