Dr. Gwen Bergen speaks with us about the cost to the health care system of falls among older adults in the United States. In addition to the risk to the individual of serious injury and loss of mobility for the remainder of their lives, the health care system bears a disproportionate medical cost. What is not included in this study is the cost in quality of life and the cost to family caregivers.
In 2015, the estimated medical costs attributable to both fatal and nonfatal falls in older US adults was approximately $50 billion. The findings come from a recent analysis by Dr. Bergen and colleagues, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. They have developed a calculation that can be repeated in future years so that we can track whether this cost is rising or falling. It will give us an opportunity to measure the effectiveness of programs to prevent falling.
For nonfatal falls in adults aged 65 and older, Medicare paid approximately $28.9 billion, Medicaid $8.7 billion and private and other payers $12.0 billion. Overall medical spending for fatal falls was estimated to be $754 million.
“Preventive strategies that reduce falls among older adults could lead to a substantial reduction in health care spending,” wrote the authors.
Dr. Bergen now serves as a Behavioral Scientist on the Home and Recreation Team in the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention at CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Before serving in her current position, she was on the Transportation Safety Team for six years. She works to prevent older adult falls, to understand older adult mobility issues, and investigates better sources of surveillance and economic data for unintentional injury.
If you find yourself “wall-walking” to steady yourself, or feeling dizzy at all, these are signs that you need to think about preventing a fall. There are good brochures and videos on the CDC website that can provide some clues as to actions you can take yourself, and discussions you might want to have with your doctor.
For more information on preventing falls please see http://www.cdc.gov/steadi where you will find information for older adults, their families, and their physicians as well.
The original article is available here.
Tags: preventing falls