A Pennsylvania Department of Aging program is proving successful in reducing falls suffered by older adults. A two year study being published by researcher Steven Albert of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health reports that the Healthy Steps program reduced falls by over 17%.
The Department of Aging supported program is available to individuals over age 50 through their local Area Agency on Aging. The average age of study participants was 75.4.
The Healthy Steps program website says that participants “learn how to stay active, make their home safer, manage medications, talk to their doctor, improve nutrition and learn about other valuable resources to help reduce the risks for falls.” The program consists of two 2 hour workshops and includes a 64 page guide.
According to a March 13, 2014 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
One in three adults aged 65 and older falls each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That agency and the National Institutes of Health gave Pitt $1.5 million for the falls prevention study.
The cost of fall injuries will reach $67.7 billion by 2020, according to the CDC.
“We recognize we do not have to accept falls,” said Mr. Albert, 58, because falls are not a normal part of aging. Though pleased with the 17 percent reduction in falls, he suggested “we can always build a better mousetrap. We can nudge people a little more.”
Since 2007, 32,000 Pennsylvanians have completed the Healthy Steps program according to the Post-Gazette. There are 4.5 million Pennsylvanians over the age of 50.
The Healthy Steps Program Initiative website makes note of the significance of falls for older adults:
- Falls are the most common cause of injury for older adults.
- One out of 3 people over age 65 falls at least once a year.
- Half of the people who break a hip do not recover fully.
- Almost half of those who enter nursing homes do so because of a fall. After the fall, they cannot stay at home on their own.
- Most falls occur in people’s own homes while they perform their regular daily activities.