Falls are a significant concern for Iowans, especially among the aging population. One out of every three adults aged 65 or older falls each year. Unintentional fall-related injuries and deaths are on the rise in Iowa and, for older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths.
However, falls can be prevented and do not have to be a "normal" part of aging. As part of the Iowa Falls Prevention Coalition, the Department works to educate older adults, adults with disabilities and caregivers about a variety of evidence-based falls prevention programs available in communities across the state. These programs can help participants increase their awareness of fall hazards and improve their physical strength and balance to reduce their risk of falling.
Components of the Falls Prevention Program
Falls among older Iowans are often attributed to decreased strength and balance, poor vision, medications, chronic health problems and unsafe home conditions. To address these issues, a number of evidence-based falls prevention programs are offered in communities throughout Iowa, including:
The Department works in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Falls Prevention Coalition to educate aging network professionals, at-risk individuals, family members, caregivers and the general public about the prevalence of falls in Iowa, their impact on quality of life and methods to prevent falls from occurring.
Benefits to Older Iowans
As detailed in this 2016 Policy Brief, falls are costly to older Iowans, both financially and personally. The average hospital stay related to fall injuries is $26,400 and people who fall often suffer a negative impact on their quality of life. For those who participate in evidence-based falls prevention programs, research shows individuals report having an improved quality of life; increased or maintained independence and mobility; reduced disability (fewer falls, later onset or fewer years of disability, etc.); and fewer hospital/doctor visits, resulting in lower health care costs.