Data shows that fall risk peaks between 6-9 pm and again from 3-6 am, when senior care staffing is reduced. What’s more, 50 percent of residents who fall overnight will have another overnight fall. These statistics become even more critical as they are applied to those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia—as the sun goes down, these residents are at even greater risk for falls as they experience sundowning, increased restlessness, anxiety, and disorientation—all of which can become more intense as the diseases progress.
Each year, more than one in four older adults aged 65 and older experience a fall, resulting in about 3 million emergency department visits, 950,000 hospitalizations, and 32,000 deaths. Falls are often preventable if you know what to screen for and what the risk factors for falls include. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation have launched a toolkit that includes Falls Free Check-ups. The goal of the CDC’s toolkit and resources is to prevent and protect older adults from sustaining falls and fall-related injuries by developing and implementing a risk factor prevention program.
Reducing the number of falls in long term care facilities is a goal for everyone. Current strategies to reduce falls typically include complex, multicomponent interventions requiring significant resources, staff time, and resident education. To be sure, these measures help mitigate the risk and reduce the number of falls at nursing homes and senior care facilities; but there is one novel approach that has been theorized over the last decade that has been recently validated through research and come to light.
It is important for physicians, staff, and families to find creative ways for residents to stay on the move.
September 22, 2018, the first day of fall, marks the 10th annual National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, sponsored by the National Council on Aging (NCOA).
Falls are the leading cause of injury related emergency department visits for older adults, the major cause of hip fractures, and responsible for more than half of fatal head injuries. Numerous states and countries worldwide are now coalescing to address this growing public health issue; many are working closely with occupational therapy practitioners as key contributors to reducing falls.
This year’s theme, Take a Stand to Prevent Falls, seeks to unite professionals, older adults, caregivers, and family members to play a part in raising awareness and preventing falls in the older adult population. 48 states participated in Falls Prevention Awareness Day last year, joining more than 70 national organizations, including the American Occupational Therapy Association, other professional associations, and federal agencies that comprise the Falls Free© Initiative. If your organization participates in a falls prevention activity, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to make sure you are counted by NCOA.
For a list of free resources, including the Falls Prevention Toolkit, go to