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For Release: September 8, 2011 – Pamela Williams, Office of Communications – (405) 271-560
Preventing Falls in Older Persons Can Prevent Admissions to Care Facilities
A recent analysis of hospital discharge data shows that when persons age 65 or older fall and are hospitalized, less than half return home. Most of these persons are discharged to a nursing home, rehabilitation facility, or assisted living home due to their injuries. The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) considers preventing falls a major public health issue and wants to raise the public awareness of older adults and their families and caregivers on ways to prevent falls.
More than 14,000 persons age 65 and older were hospitalized for fall injuries during a two-year period from 2008 through 2009. During that same time period, 498 persons age 65 and older died as a result of a fall (preliminary data). Women age 65 and older were almost twice as likely as men to be hospitalized due to a fall.
As an individual ages, the risk of falling increases. Nationally, falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injury in all age groups, except 15-24 year olds. However, for persons age 65 and older, falls are the leading cause of non-fatal and fatal injury. Persons over age 80, regardless of gender, are most at-risk for injuries and deaths from falls.
Families and caregivers should be aware of the risk factors for falls, which include balance and mobility problems, medication side effects, uneven walking surfaces, obstacles in and around the home, lack of stair rails and poor lighting, unstable elevated work areas (like ladders), walking on ice, and having fallen previously.
“Preventing falls can prevent injuries and deaths, especially in adults over age 65. We are looking at ways for older adults to live safely at home and prevent fall injuries by taking some simple precautions,” said Sheryll Brown, acting chief of the OSDH Injury Prevention Service.
The OSDH Injury Prevention Service offers the following tips to help prevent falls:
Around the Home:
For more information on how to prevent falls, contact the OSDH Injury Prevention Service at (405) 271-3430 or visit http://ips.health.ok.gov .
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