Falls and related safety issues are a growing problem with an increasingly aging population in this country. According to the National Council on Aging, an older adult is treated in an emergency room for a fall every 15 seconds in the U.S., and there is a fall-related death every 29 minutes. As older adults have issues with mobility and balance, many with other chronic diseases, chronic disease management services play an important role in addressing fall and safety issues.
Fall and Safety Issues With Older Adults
Falls are an overriding health issue with older adults. They are the principal cause of fractures, trauma-related hospital admissions, and deaths due to injury. Falls are also the most common cause of elderly traumatic brain injuries, which account for more than 46 percent of fatal falls.
Falls among older adults are occurring for a variety of reasons. Uneven flooring, sliding carpets, and slippery floors are common culprits. Aging adults often don’t have the sharp eyesight to identify hazards or the quick reflexes to avoid a spill. Falls also occur due to some blood pressure conditions that can cause dizziness, lack of feeling in extremities, and other sensory issues.
Fall and Injury Prevention
Better fall and injury prevention measures are a must. Currently, the United States spends $30 billion annually treating older adults for the effects of falls. These numbers are expected to reach nearly $60 billion by 2020 if better prevention isn’t implemented. As it is today, 25 percent of hip fractures require a patient to stay in a nursing home for at least a year.
According to a recent CDC Compendium, fall prevention is most effective through a series of multi-faceted interventions that include exercise, clinical review, and home modifications. Various types of providers are involved in these programs that may involve evaluation, education, balance training, strengthening, and the use of different aids.
The Role of Chronic Disease Management Services
When a patient has multiple chronic diseases, falls and injury are a real concern. Often over-medication can contribute to confusion and instability in a patient, which easily leads to a fall and serious injury. Chronic disease management services can address many of these issues through Chronic Care Management (CCM) services.
These one-on-one patient conversations allow the care coordinator to review the physician’s personalized care plan with the patient and identify any potential safety concerns. This also provides an additional opportunity for fall and safety education between the care coordinator and the patient. Also, medication reconciliations are completed, and safety warnings about various medications can be reviewed at each meeting. Care coordinators can also help identify instances in which durable medical equipment could be a benefit to patients in fall prevention, either in the home or in a healthcare setting.
Fall and injury prevention for older adults continues to be a serious challenge in this country. Fortunately, chronic disease management services can help providers minimize this risk through its CCM services. Contact us to learn more about these valuable services or to request a free consultation.