Fall-related injuries among older Americans are rising as the people age 65 and older become a larger percentage of the population. In 2013, 2.5 million older Americans were treated in emergency departments for injuries from falls, resulting in $34 billion in direct medical costs. Fortunately, several opportunities are available to help physicians prevent falls among their patients.
With National Falls Prevention Awareness Day Wednesday, sponsored by the National Council on Aging, it’s a good time to work with your patients to minimize their risk of falling. Here are three things you can do:
- Screen patients by asking if they have fallen in the past year, feel unsteady or worry about falling.
- Review patients’ medications and stop, switch or reduce the dose of drugs that increase the risk for falls.
- Recommend daily Vitamin D with calcium.
Resources to help
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently launched its STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths and Injuries) initiative for health care professionals in association with the 2015 White House Conference on Aging. Rooted in established clinical guidelines and scientifically tested interventions, STEADI helps physicians address fall risk, identify modifiable risk factors and provide effective interventions for patients.
Free online training offering continuing medical education credit is available, and electronic health record vendors Epic and GE Centricity are developing STEADI modules to help physicians incorporate fall prevention into clinical practice.
Also encourage your patients to check out the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Falls Prevention Toolkit, and the National Council on Aging’s 6 steps to protect your older loved one from a fall and 6 steps to prevent a fall infographic.