In Ohio, people ages 65 years and older comprise 15.5 percent of the population. Falls are the number one cause of injuries leading to emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths for Ohio residents in this age group.
In 2012, Aultman Trauma Services developed and implemented a Fall Prevention Program to raise public awareness of fall prevention through education and community partnerships to reduce injuries and fatalities related to falls within the aging population. Patients admitted to Aultman Hospital receive educational material on ways to prevent falls, as well as a schedule of upcoming Fall Prevention Programs prior to discharge from the hospital. The program consists of strategies to help prevent older people from falling, such as home modifications; discussion of medications that may affect balance; and exercises to improve strength and balance. Aultman collaborates with churches, nursing care facilities, senior centers, and YMCAs to host this program. Participants complete an evaluation of the benefits and outcomes of the program. These evaluations assist in ensuring that program objectives are met and demonstrates that people are willing to make changes to reduce the risk of falls, based on knowledge gained from the program.
Since 2012, Aultman Trauma Services has provided fall prevention education to more than 70 churches, health fairs, nursing care facilities, senior centers, and YMCAs. We have attended 15 locations per year averaging approximately 3,500 attendees. According to Aultman’s Trauma Registry, the data shows a 9.2 percent decrease in the number of patients admitted for a fall from 2015 (571) to 2016 (518). For those patients admitted ages 65 and older, from the period of 2015 to 2016, the number of falls decreased by 11.4 percent (383 to 339 admissions).
Over the past five years, we have identified an increase in program attendance when incentives were provided such as giveaways (e.g. night lights), snacks, beverages and additional marketing provided from the community partner hosting the program.
Goals are to implement an evidence-based fall prevention program called “Matter of Balance,” an eight-week program in a structured group environment that emphasizes practical strategies to reduce the fear of falling and increase activity level. This opportunity is made possible through an award from the National Association of City and County Health Officials and is co-sponsored by the Stark County Health Department. The trauma injury prevention coordinator completed the coaches and master training course for “Matter of Balance” program in 2017. This will provide assistance to other community members in the train-the-trainer process to expand the program throughout Stark County.
Contact: Liz Edmunds, DNP, RN
Aultman Health Foundation