Rewind Please: Barriers to Fall Prevention

The uneasiness began when I saw $1,424.63 debit which I suspected wasn’t mine. Fraud confirmed with a phone call to my bank – the charge posted from a store I’ve never purchased from. After a futile search for my wallet, it became obvious – I was now among the growing victims of identity theft! My immediate thoughts included how much a of bargain identity theft insurance would’ve been now, and how dumb I was to carry so much personal information in my wallet. If I only had a rewind button, I would jump at the chance to make a few changes to help prevent my identity from being stolen.

Being in the fall prevention field, I imagine this same thought enters the minds of those who’ve suffered fall-related injuries. If they only had a rewind button they too would probably love to change a few things. Would they choose to really put in the grab bars in the shower? Pull up the extra throw rugs? Install the handrail and/or ramp at the front door? Put the night lights in the bathroom? Stay with their exercises to keep their legs strong?

Unfortunately, life does not come with a rewind button. I cannot go back in time and prevent my identity from being stolen, just as patients cannot go back in time and prevent falls. With a few safeguards in place I will be fine going forward, however, the same cannot be said for falls – there may not be a second chance. Falls are the leading cause of injury death among those 65 years of age and older [1]. Falls are often life-changing events. Falls are attributed to [2, 3]:

  • Reduced quality of life – ability to get around or live independently.
  • Increased risk of early death.
  • Most common cause of traumatic brain injuries, or TBI.
  • Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls.
  • Average Medicare costs per fall are between $9,113 and $13,507.

Losing my wallet has helped me understand the “human nature” obstacles of preventing falls. It is in our nature to want a rewind button, but, with falls in particular, we cannot wait until after a fall happens to make changes. Let’s use an imaginary fast forward button to educate patients and families about the seriousness of falls. Then let’s use the present to make the changes necessary to prevent a fall.  Don’t delay, prevent falls today!

References:

1.         ‘Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, N.C.f.I.P.a.C.  2010  [cited 2010 November, 30]; Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/.

2.         CDC. Falls Among Older Adults: An Overview.  2011  [cited 2011 March 4]; Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/adultfalls.html.

3.         CDC. Costs of Falls Among Older Adults.  2011  [cited 2011 March 4]; Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/fallcost.html.