Falls are the leading cause of injury-related: deaths, hospitalizations and emergency department visits among Florida’s senior population and result in significant physical, personal, social, and economic burdens. In fact, in 2009, the number of fall-related deaths among Floridians 65 years of age and older was 1,721 for a fatality rate of 52 per 100,000 senior residents. 41,464 hospitalizations of elder Floridians were due to non-fatal fall-related injuries during 2009 and 18,969 hospitalizations were related to hip fractures among elder Floridians, principally due to falls.
Approximately 75% of hospitalizations for non-fatal traumatic brain or spinal cord/vertebral column injuries sustained by elder Floridians were due to falls. Total hospital charges for 2009 fall-related injury hospitalizations among elder Floridians were greater than $1.8 million. In addition, approximately 75% of those elders who required hospitalization were discharged from the hospital to some other institution/facility to receive continued medical care.
Many falls are preventable. Loose throw rugs, clutter, objects in major pathways, and pets are all common contributors to falls. Educating elder consumers about the risks of falls can motivate them to modify home environments to make them safer.
Statewide Falls Prevention Coalition
In partnership, the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and the Department of Health (Office of Injury Prevention) are in the process of developing a statewide Falls Prevention Coalition, through the Florida Injury Prevention Advisory Council, goal team three. The Florida Department of Elder Affairs serves a co-goal team leader for this Falls Prevention initiative. The goal is to establish a collaborate effort to provide statewide direction and focus fall related injury prevention for Florida’s seniors.