Falls are the leading cause of death from injury as well as the leading cause of non fatal injuries in those ages 65 and up. 30-35% of people 65+ fall each year. Those who fall are 2-3 times more likely to fall again. In addition the economic impact of falls is devastating. Cost of fall injuries among people 65+ adjusted for inflation = $30 billion, fatal falls $0.3 billion, and nonfatal injuries $29.9 billion.
Fort Worth Fire Department (FWFD) ran approximately 3500 calls last year related to people falling in their homes, many were repeat callers, and many did not want or require medical assistance, only “lift help”.
FWFD and MedStar educated on availability of community resources for falls prevention, in particular the Matter of Balance and HomeMeds programs offered through United Way of Tarrant County’s Area Agency on Aging (AAA), Senior Citizen Services of Greater Tarrant County, and Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County.
Information flyers have been created for the first responders and paramedics to leave behind on the calls where a fall has occurred. Protocol recently developed for FWFD and MedStar to make direct referrals to Area Agency for Aging so that they may access available services for falls prevention.
Physical therapy (PT) Students from the University of North Texas Health Science Center participated in a Faith Community Nursing Health Fair at the First United Methodist Church in Keller by providing balance assessments. This was highly successful and now we plan to implement a regular Falls/balance screening program in conjunction with the Faith Community Nurses and AAA. Additional vision, medication, home assessment screenings to be added. These screenings will be located in senior centers and churches in or near the high density fall areas.
News and Updates on Falls Prevention Awareness Week (September 23rd – 29th)
Steppin’ Grannies Dance to Promote Fall Prevention Awareness
BY MARTY SABOTA
A group of hip-hop line dancers called the Steppin’ Grannies strutted their stuff in Sundance Square Plaza on Tuesday to bring awareness to falling, a serious problem among the elderly.
“Everybody has at least one family member who has had at least one fall or [is] suffering the consequences of a direct fall,” said Nicoleta Bugnariu, a physical therapy faculty member at the University of North Texas Health Science Center who heads Fort Worth’s Falls Prevention Task Force.
Amanda Robbins, chairwoman of the Fort Worth Safe Communities Coalition, said city and county groups have numerous programs that address fall prevention, including universities, emergency response agencies, hospitals and senior centers.
On September 22nd, the Commissioners Court will proclaim the week of September 23-29 as Fall Prevention Awareness Week in Tarrant County. On the same day at 11:15 a.m. in Sundance Square, the proclamation will be celebrated with live performances from Senior Citizen Services and information from the Falls Prevention Task Force of Fort Worth Safe Communities Coalition. Entertainers will include the Steppin’ Grannies of Fort Worth, a hip-hop line dance group of senior grandmothers ages 60+, and the Dukes of Uke and the Uke-A-Ladies ukulele band.
STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries) Toolkit
A literature review regarding falls prevention and the elderly identified:
- Many primary physicians did not identify falls & gait disorders or evaluate patients who reported falling
- Only 37% of older adults asked about falls
- Only 8% of primary care physicians used any clinical guideline on fall prevention
- Many physicians were interested in learning about fall risk assessment & risk reduction
The goal of this initiative is to change the culture within primary care physician practices relating to falls screening among the elderly population. We have developed a training using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s STEADI toolkit as the foundation and modifying it for our community needs. This training is available to educate physicians, mid-levels, and nurses on screening and prevention of falls, as well as available local resources.