According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, millions of seniors fall every year, with one out of every three people over 65 taking a tumble.
Not only are falls the chief cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries—in 2013, 25,500 older adults died from injuries sustained in a fall—but 20% to 30% of fall survivors incur moderate to severe injuries.
In 2013, direct medical costs alone amounted to $34 billion. When you add in other costs—not just to the patient, but also to relatives and friends who help the injured senior—you can imagine how that total increases.
LifePlans Inc., a Munich Re subsidiary that provides health assessments, care management and administrative services, has developed a fall intervention program that has, according to the company, been proven “to significantly reduce the risk and rate of falls” and to “lower the incidence of insurance claims.”
According to LifePlans, the LIFT Wellness Program (Living Independently and Falls-Free Together) is the result of a multiyear research study on fall prevention with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The study, which began in 2004, found that an intervention made up of a comprehensive in-home assessment of physical, emotional and cognitive functioning, falls history, home environment and medications could be used to create customized recommendations for the person assessed, as well as for that individual’s doctor. Once implemented, the program not only enabled people to lower instances of falling, it also made it safer for them to remain in their own homes and made them less afraid of falling.
That last part is important because people who fall, whether or not they get hurt, develop a fear of falling that can make them withdraw from certain activities. That, in turn, leads to loss of mobility and impairs their physical fitness, thus putting them, ironically, at greater risk of falling.