How do we effectively prevent falls?
On average a third of adults over the age of 65 will suffer from a fall each year, with this number rising to 50% for adults over the age of 80. Often overlooked, falls can not only lead to serious injury but can result in further health complications. Although differing from country to country, it is estimated that the global financial cost of fall related injuries is substantial. Figures obtained from the World Health Organization show that average health system cost in Australia is US$ per fall injury, which rises to US$ 3611 per fall injury in the Republic of Finland.
The most common risk factor for falls, by far, is age. Due to physiological and environments not suitably adapted for older adults, individuals over the age of 65 are largely at risk of seriously injuring themselves as a result of a fall.
A range of preventative measures can be put into place to prevent the initial occurrence or a re-occurrence of falls. These can include increased exercise to improve muscle strength and balance, modifications around the home to promote independence through increased mobility and accessibility. In certain cases, medicines management and a review of psychotropic drugs often administered to older adults may also be of benefit.
Use of a screening tool to conduct a high-level falls risk assessment could also help to identify those most at risk in the population. Through over 30 years of research and development our ACTᵀᴹ Assessment tool identifies 17 unique threats which can be used to generate a falls risk score. Such threats include impaired vision, problems with feet and cognitive impairment. Aligned with the World Health Organization Integrated Care for Older People (ICOPE) approach, the ACTᵀᴹ Assessment falls risk score can help to mobilise community assets and refer those most at risk to tailored specialist interventions.
As well as increased health and social care costs, falls can have a significant impact on the quality of life of an older person. With an ever-increasing ageing population, implementing effective preventative measures is crucial for reducing the long-term pressure on healthcare and social care systems globally.
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