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Falls among older adults (age 65+) are a major public health challenge.  In Massachusetts, there are nearly 50,000 emergency room visits each year for fall-related injuries.  These injuries, which can include broken bones and traumatic brain injuries, are also very expensive to treat. In 2014, Massachusetts acute care hospital charges associated with these injuries totaled over $744 million.  Falling, and the fear of falling, can lead to muscle weakness due to lack of activity, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.

Falls Prevention blog post imageThe good news is that most falls can be prevented.  Through the MA Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund, a state program to improve health while controlling costs, health care clinics and community-based organizations are teaming up to stop falls from occurring.

The twenty-three health centers in the grant are evaluating their older patients’ risk for falling and offering appropriate treatment and referrals.  Even patients who have never fallen are offered fall prevention information.

Thirty community-based organizations across the state are matching these efforts by offering fall prevention programs like Tai Chi, a Matter of Balance, and Home Safety Assessments.  In these programs older adults learn skills to prevent falls and become more active.  Community Health Workers help participants overcome barriers and take control of their health.  And community-based organizations can share updates with the participant’s primary care provider through an electronic system.

Our goal is to reduce fall-related injuries, lower the state’s health care costs, and help older Massachusetts residents enjoy their favorite activities without fearing falling.

The first day of fall, September 22nd is national Falls Prevention Awareness Day (FPAD). Join the Massachusetts Fall Prevention Coalition for their annual FPAD event on Monday, September 26th in the Great Hall at the State House from 10:00am-1:00pm to help bring attention to this important issue.

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Quality Adviser - Falls, Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund

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