Fall risk reduction programs help older adults thrive
Injuries in older adults due to falls cost Missouri an average of $883 million every year, and 27.3% report falling at least once annually. The National Council on Aging states that falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for older Americans (65 years and older). Falls can also create long-term health and quality of life issues. University of Missouri Extension implemented Fall Risk Reduction Programs to decrease risk factors in residents.
Extension educators offered 51 workshops that served 461 participants through two safe, effective, community-based programs, Matter of Balance and Tai Chi for Arthritis for Fall Prevention. The target audience was adults over 65 years old that have disabilities or want to improve their physical and mental health. Extension reduced the percentage of older adults who report falling in Missouri, reduced the number of injuries related to falls, decreased the number of older adults who fear falling, reduced medical care costs and increased the number of older adults meeting the physical activity guideline through this program. Participants reported increased total physical activity, increased physical activity self-efficacy, a reduced fear of falling, a decreased risk for falling and an improved perception of general health. They also suggested that the social interaction was as important to them as the physical improvements.
Although difficult to monetize the additional savings of improved physical fitness, it is certainly significant. Increasing the number of older adults participating in physical activity can lead to a more engaged community and a broader public appreciation for the benefits of physical activity and maintaining good health as we age.
Link to full statement on website: http://landgrantimpacts.tamu.edu/impacts/show/6267