These issues not only impact one’s health and well-being, they also have economic consequences. In 2015, costs for falls to Medicare alone totaled over $31 billion. Imagine if some of this could be averted and spent preventing the fall in the first place.
Understanding the fall risk associated with seniors, especially those living with chronic conditions or illnesses, is the first step to prevention. By providing prompt care, outcomes can be improved, costs can be reduced, and people can potentially live longer at home independently.
A focus on preventative care and preparedness
Many seniors are living with chronic conditions, and the associated increased risks of falling, and the dynamic nature of health, it is more important than ever to make sure seniors have services, solutions and support to age well. Seniors and their caregivers can be better prepared by:
- Knowing that time matters. A key consideration is the amount of time between when someone falls and gets medical help after a fall. For example, we know that the risk of dying after a fall can increase three fold if timely response is not provided. Getting help quickly after an incident such as a heart attack, stroke, diabetic episode, or fall makes a difference in outcomes and costs. Using a medical alert device results in an emergency response time that is more than 320 times faster than a senior having to call for help on their own.
- Seeking out solutions that improve medication adherence. Eighty-seven percent of adults ages 65 or older take at least two medications, and 42 percent take five or more medications. Adherence can be a challenge for seniors, but effective medication management can help avoid unintended mistakes and consequences.
- Staying active. Sedentary lifestyles can gradually cause poor flexibility, loss of strength and decreased bone mass—all of which will increase the chances of falling. Establishing a consistent fitness routine will put your body in better shape and make exercise easier as you get older.
- Avoiding unnecessary hospital care. Automatic fall detection technology and responsive medical care may help avoid hospital transport, ER visits and hospitalization. Through predictive analytics, like Philips’ CareSage, care teams can be alerted when a senior or other patient has an increased risk of being transported to the emergency room in the next 30 days. Early warning systems like this can make all the difference in providing effective treatment and care. These types of solutions help clinicians understand how their customers are doing while they are at home or on the go.
It is important to recognize that while aging inevitability brings an increased risk of falling, there are smart choices we can make to reduce the risks, improve outcomes and quality of life. Take action for yourself and your loved ones to help them to stay safe, healthier and more connected.