Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition's Step WiseLee program has been named to the "Falls Prevention Hall of Fame" by the National Council on Aging. The designation is awarded to organizations that demonstrate significant impact in preventing falls in the community. Since its inception in 2009, the Step WiseLee program has been delivered to more than 4,000 individuals. According to data collected by Lee Memorial Trauma Services, the number of trauma alerts from fall-related injuries has been reduced by five percent since 2010.
Falls are the leading cause of injury death for older Americans, and threaten seniors' safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. The Centers for Disease Control's Injury Center monitors falls, fall-related injuries, and associated costs, reporting:
- In 2009, more than 20,000 older Americans died from injuries related to unintentional falls.
- In 2010, more than 2.3 million older Americans were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal injuries from falls and more than 650,000 were hospitalized. CDC reports the death rate from falls among older adults has increased by 42 percent from 2000 to 2006.
The total cost of fall injuries for older Americans was estimated to be $28.2 billion (in 2010 dollars). By 2020, the annual direct and indirect cost of fall injuries is expected to reach $54.9 billion.
In addition to pain and suffering, and the high cost of rehabilitation, falls with or without injury also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, often self-limit activities and social engagements. Resulting limitations can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.
This potentially bleak future for aging Americans is not inevitable; evidence-based interventions that target individual risk factors for falling have been shown to reduce falls and promote falls self-efficacy. For a more detailed checklist on how you can help prevent falls and fall-related injuries and deaths, visit www.stepwiselee.com.