Fulton, NY – For seniors and older adults the results of falling can bring devastating consequences. According to the New York State Department of Health Center for Environmental Health, Bureau of Occupational Health and Injury Prevention, in the Central New York Region, which includes Oswego County, the average annual fall-related hospitalization costs $54 million and emergency room costs $5.4 million.
As the population of Oswego County continues to age, falls are a serious and growing public health concern. To help address this, the Rural Health Network of Oswego County has established a Falls Prevention Coalition.
Made possible through funding from the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York, a Rural Health Network partner that serves frail elders, the Oswego County Falls Prevention Coalition will soon be implementing their “Step Up to Stop Falls” initiative.
According to Danielle Wert, coordinator of the Rural Health Network, “Step Up to Stop Falls” will target 55-year-olds and older for prevention-related interventions; and 75 and older for risk-management interventions. Additionally, professional groups will be targeted for training, development and strategy implementation.
“Our vision is to create a fall-free Oswego County and support healthy aging by preventing falls,” said Wert. “Our plan uses a multi-disciplinary approach of education and assessment to increase awareness of fall risks and prevention utilizing effective, evidence-based and promising outcome strategies. We will engage caregivers, healthcare professionals and organizations serving older adults in a common effort to create a unified approach to falls prevention/intervention in the county.”
Wert added that the Falls Prevention Coalition will focus on three areas: Physical Activity, Balance and Mobility Education; Professional Development and Practice Change; and Community Education and Awareness.
“We are excited to introduce Dr. Betty Perkins-Carpenter’s ‘6 Steps to Better Balance’ curriculum that engages seniors with activities to improve their balance and teaches them various ways they can prevent or lessen the impact of falling. The six-week course includes education on the importance of home safety assessments to identify hazards and can even reduce the fear seniors have of falling,” said Wert.
“The Coalition will also partner with qualified health care professionals and aging service providers to: increase the number of:
· Falls Risk Assessments conducted;
· Falls Prevention Plan(s) of Care developed;
· Training sessions offered to support best practices; and
· Referrals to community based Falls Prevention services.
In addition, we will provide older adults and caregivers throughout Oswego County with valuable resources that will help them identify ways to prevent falls and identify hazards that could cause a fall,” said Wert.
Organizations participating in the Falls Coalition include: lead agency, Oswego County Opportunities (OCO); Excellus BlueCross BlueShield; St. Luke’s Health Services; Oswego Health & St. Joseph’s Home Care; the Oswego County Health Dept.; Oswego County Office for the Aging; ARISE; the SUNY Oswego Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP); Northern Oswego County Health Services Inc. (NOCHSI); and StafKings of Oswego.
“This is the first formal initiative of its kind in Oswego County and we are excited about the positive effect it will have on seniors and those that care for them. Participating organizations will focus on empowering adults to improve the quality of their own lives by promoting health and safety through education and coaching, and providing them with tools and resources that may help prevent them from falling. We are doing what we can to help older adults age in place. I invite any agency or organization that serves frail elders to join us in our mission to create a fall free Oswego County,” added Wert.
For more information on the Rural Health Network or the Falls Prevention Coalition, contact Danielle Wert at (315) 592-0827.