As our population ages, many innovative programs are being created to help seniors lead productive lives and stay in their homes as long as possible – it’s called “aging in place” by many clinicians.
But living at home, as people age, can have many challenges. We’ve all seen the commercials for step-in tubs, pain salves and the like, including ads for alert systems one wears around the neck. And the truth is many seniors count falling down among their chief fears. This is with good reason.
Falling is a leading cause of hospitalizations not only for seniors but for all ages. Yet for the elderly, falls can have a devastating impact and today represent the fifth leading cause of death among people over age 65. Often the injuries associated with falls lead to a loss of independence and an associated downward spiral in physical and emotional health.
The Alameda Health System’s Fall Prevention Center
Now, there is a resource to this growing problem of falling and injuring oneself, which is expected to occur more frequently in the future as the population ages, if left unchecked. Enter the Fall Prevention Center (FPC), a collaborative effort between the Highland Hospital Trauma Center’s Injury Prevention Program and the Alameda County Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Care. While many hospitals offer fall prevention services to their patients, Highland’s program takes a more comprehensive approach in striving to identify at-risk patients before falls occur and educating them on how to prevent falls. As one 70-year-old patient stated after attending a class on fall prevention: “I’m older now and I know I have to do more things to keep myself safe. I want to live to 100, and I want to be healthy.”
Highland’s Fall Prevention Center involves various specialties in a one-stop clinic, providing needed health education and disease prevention services. Senior patients—the majority of whom are on low and fixed incomes—receive first-rate care for their injuries. They also receive training help them prevent falls in the first place or reduce their risk of falling again. The goal is to enhance patient safety and limit the risk of falls during daily activities. Patients who require additional treatment for balance and gait receive a referral for outpatient physical therapy. Each patient also receives a cookbook to promote healthy diet, a pedometer to encourage physical activity, and a deck of cards that contains injury prevention messages.
Fall Prevention Center Awarded Certificate of Recognition by U.S. Congress
The comprehensive intervention is paying off. The Fall Prevention Center has been highly successful in helping patients reduce emergency visits and hospitalization due to falls. Moreover, several external parties have lauded the merits of the program. The U.S. Congress awarded a Certificate of Recognition to Highland for launching the program and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors has formally commended Alameda Health System for its efforts to keep seniors healthy, safe and independent—and enjoying active and quality lives in the community.
Consider making make a donation to our Annual Fund to help us continue to fund effective and essential programs that contribute to the well-being of all members of our community.