Nevada Goes Falls Free Coalition
Fall and fall-related injuries impose an enormous burden on individuals, society and the nation’s health care systems. According to the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control:
- More than one-third of adults’ age 65 years and older fall each year.
- Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths and the most common cause of injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.
- Older adults are hospitalized for fall-related injuries five times more often than they are for injuries from other causes.
- Of those who fall, 20 to 30 percent suffer moderate to severe injuries that reduce mobility and independence, and increase the risk of premature death.
The Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Injury Prevention staff at the Southern Nevada Health District looked at 2005 national data referenced above from the CDC concerning deaths and injuries to people 65 years and older. The national 2005 death rate (per 100,000 population) from unintentional falls for seniors 65 and over was 42.96. Available data for Nevada from 2004 showed the unintentional fall death rate for seniors 65 and over was 37.90, just slightly under the national rate but significant.
Additional information obtained from the Center for Health Data and Research (CHDR) at the Nevada State Health Division showed that there were 132 deaths as a result of unintentional falls in Nevada in 2004. Of the 132 deaths, 93 or 70 percent occurred in Clark County. Eighty-four or 64 percent of those deaths in Nevada were to seniors 65 and older. Hospital discharge data collected by the CHDR for the years 2003 through 2005 showed that 10,035 people were admitted to Nevada hospitals as a result of an unintentional fall. This was 45 percent of all hospital admissions for accidental injuries during that three year period.
Many falls and fall-related injuries can be prevented with existing knowledge and technology. The risk of falling can be reduced by following these steps:
- exercise regularly
- make your home safer
- ask your health care provider to review your medicines
- get your vision checked
While researching fall prevention efforts through the National Council on The Aging and the CDC, health district staff learned about the evidence based “Stepping On” Program. The health district purchased a copy of the “Stepping On” program manual and after thorough study, collaborated and combined resources with Touro University and the Barbara Greenspun Women’s Care Center to conduct the program as a pilot project.
The next step in expanding the “Stepping On” program in Clark County and Nevada was to develop a Nevada chapter of the NCOA’s Falls Free Coalition, which was done in January, 2011.
Earlier this year, the coalition members decided upon a four-fold approach to celebrating the National Fall Prevention Awareness Day 2011 which included:
- Attained a proclamation from the new mayor of Las Vegas, Mayor Goodman, to proclaim September 23, 2011 as Nevada Celebrates National Fall Prevention Day.
- Distrubted over 6,000 fall prevention educational materials across the valley in both English and Spanish.
- Provided fall risk assessments for older adults across the valley using the FRAST instrument.
Held classes to train "Stepping On" leaders.
- Over 100 older adults were successfully screened and over 50 percent were referred to the "Stepping On" classes.
- Trained 21 "Stepping On" leaders. Twenty of the 21 instructors are now scheduled to teach "Stepping On" courses in pairs, in each of 10 sites around the valley before March 2012.