The number of falls for people over 65 is increasing despite best efforts to prevent them. Giving older adults a long to-do list of ways to improve their balance is disengaging and unsuccessful, according to Kaiser. Kaiser Health News addresses what needs to be changed in senior care to actually prevent falls.
Kaiser concludes “Older adults worried about falling typically receive general advice: Take an exercise class. Get your vision checked. Stop taking medications for sleep. Install grab bars in the bathroom. … That sort of advice hasn’t proved to be very effective: Nearly three times more adults age 75 and older died from falls in 2016 than in 2000, according to a recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.”
Kaiser’s recommendations are:
Get a Fall Risk Assessment
Get a Personalized Plan
Be careful during transitions, especially after a hospital stay
They also conclude that doctors should communicate to older adults in a supportive, non-patronizing way that with language that reinforces the importance of independence, not fear of falling.
We recently spoke with a medium sized Independent Living Community who was looking to implement a fall prevention program. Their fall statistics in the past five months:
10% required hospitalization
2 signed risk agreements
This is “normal” for most Senior Living Communities – essentially on fall every two days. We’ve worked with many communities where, according to the STEADI protocol, between 50% and 80% of residents are at acute fall risk.
So what can be done?
The obvious choice is to implement a fall prevention program. We have developed a step-by-step article on how to implement a program that we’d be happy to assist with. Or contact us if you’d like to explore the benefits of working with Nymbl.
Calculating the ROI of implementing a Fall Prevention Program
Before committing to running a fall prevention program, it’s important to understand the Cost/Benefit of the program to see if it will help the bottom line of the community. In the community above, the return from implementing the program was projected at 6.5 times the cost, an ROI (Return on Investment) of 650%!
How is an ROI this high possible from a fall prevention program? The average cost of a move out in independent living $8000, from lost rent (1 month at least) and marketing cost to replace that resident. So the community has already had a hit to their bottom line of $16,000 in lost rent and incremental marketing costs in just 5 months. Projected over a year, the cost will total nearly $35,000! Nymbl costs just a fraction of this. So even recognizing that not all falls can be prevented, it’s an extremely good investment.
There are other costs that may not be taken into consideration when you calculate the advantage of a Nymbl fall prevention program. How much of your staff time is taken up by dealing with resident falls: urgent calls to the medical staff, calling the ambulance and calming down residents who may be upset. Falls have ramifications and costs to the entire community, so any fall avoided reduces both cost and suffering in many ways.
Nymbl has developed an ROI cost calculator that will determine the return for your community. Please contact us and we’d be happy to develop the analysis with you. Or attend our free webinar about how to make Falls Prevention work effectively.
There is increasing consensus that social isolation is not only depressing for older adults, it’s also deadly. Loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality by 26 percent*, and is as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day**. You might not make an immediate connection between fall prevention and social isolation, but not only are they linked, fall prevention programs can have a dramatic impact on loneliness and social isolation.
One of the key causes of social isolation is fear of falling. If an older adult is worried about falling, they go out less, or even stop going out altogether. This stands to reason – if you are worried about having a catastrophic fall every time you leave the house, you’re going to think twice about going out.
So fall prevention programs can have a significant impact not just on falls, but also on helping alleviate social isolation. Confidence gained from improved balance links directly to likelihood of going to that dinner with friends, family gatherings, a play or the movies.
This creates a virtuous cycle – improved balance reduces fear, which increases how much an older adult is willing to go out, and every time they go out, the exercise involved in dealing with the “real-world” helps improve balance as well.
This is true in Senior Living Communities even when a resident is surrounded by other residents. Fear of falling and lead to social isolation because residents stop going to events and meals. Improved balance will lead to more participation in Community events. So when looked at community wide, a community with better balance will have less social isolation because residents will choose to participate in more activities. Fall prevention programs have positive impact on the lives of everyone in the community.
If you are running a Senior Living Community, it makes sense to implement a fall prevention program for many reasons, social isolation being just one. If you would like to explore how to set up a successful fall prevention program in your community, we invite you to a free webinar that discusses the science behind fall prevention and how to implement it in your comunity.
Or fill out this form if you’d like to speak with us directly.