Falls Prevention

Program on Healthy Aging releases new facts on falls in recognition of Fall Prevention Awareness Week

September 20, 2013

Fall-related injuries and hospitalization are a major concern for older adults in America today. The Program on Healthy Aging at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health recently released new state-wide data documenting the public health impact of falls for Texas’ older adult population.

Falls PreventionAccording to Samuel Towne, Ph.D., who analyzed the latest Texas hospital discharge data, “the incidence of fall-related hospitalizations has grown among Texans 50 and older since 2007. This has resulted in a dramatic increase in the cost which now exceeds more than 3 billion dollars in 2011. For example, the average cost of a fall-related hospitalization has risen from approximately $37,000 in 2007 to more than $51,000 in 2011.”

“Falling has become an accepted part of getting older for many people; however, falls are not inevitable. In many cases they can be prevented through education, increased physical activity and practical modifications within the home and with everyday activities,” states Regents and Distinguished Professor Marcia Ory, Ph.D., M.P.H., Director of the Program on Healthy Aging.

Through the use of numerous free training seminars and prevention programs, older adults can learn how to reduce the occurrence of falls and increase their quality of life. “A little bit of prevention, is truly worth a pound of cure,” said Cindy Quinn, Evidence-based Program Coordinator for the Program on Healthy Aging. “These programs really do help older adults lower the cost for their healthcare and allow them to remain independent as long as possible.”

During the first week of fall, designated as Fall Prevention Awareness Week, there will be several events throughout the Brazos Valley to promote awareness and provide helpful fall prevention strategies.

On September 26th St. Joseph Hospital, in conjunction with the Program on Healthy Aging, the Area Agency on Aging of the Brazos Valley, and Shield Healthcare, will be hosting a free seminar to learn more about reducing the risk of falling. The seminar will feature guest speakers Lois Basenfelder from St. Joseph Pharmacy Services, Jenny Hudspeth and Lindsey Robertson from the St. Joseph Dizzy and Balance Program, and Rachel Foster from the Texas A&M School of Rural Public Health and the Brazos Valley Area Agency on Aging. In addition, Home Depot will be displaying various products that can be used to reduce the risk of falls and increase safety in the home.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing, in conjunction with the Texas A&M Evidence-Based Program will be hosting five workshops entitled, “A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns about Falls” in Bryan, Caldwell, and Navasota through November 18th. These workshops will engage older adults as well as their loved ones on ways to increase physical activity, improve balance, and make changes in the home to reduce the risk of falling.

The costs of falls impact the lives of older adults and their families not only economically, but personally and socially. With this information, government and community leaders will have a better understanding of the economic impact of falling and the importance of increasing independence for our older adult community.

— Laura Jo Clanton

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