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Missoula Measures - Falls Among Older Adults

graph of hip fracture rate, US and Montana and Healthy People 2020 target


Why this topic?

Falls are the most common cause of injuries among senior citizens and are the top reason for a hospital admission for trauma. Advanced age substantially increases the likelihood of hospitalization after a fall. Falls account for 87% of all fractures among people aged 65 years or older.

Fear of falling may cause a person to reduce his or her level of physical activity which actually increases the risk of falling.

Fractures in older people heal more slowly than those in younger people.  A lengthy recovery period from fractures or other injuries can cause depression and can severely reduce a person's independence and further reduce mobility, agility, balance and muscle strength.  Falls can be:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Preventing Falls.


With the population aging, both the number of falls and the costs to treat fall injuries are likely to increase.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Approximately 1/3 of people over 65 fall each year, although accurate statistics are elusive. Hospitals code a hip fracture rather than a fall, for instance, and many falls go unreported. 90% of hip fractures related to falls.  B. Perkins DPHHS, Feb. 2010

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services intends to fund pilot community-based fall prevention program in several communities.  DPHHS has selected Stepping On, a program developed in Australia and re-worked in Wisconsin, which includes balance and strength exercises, medication, vision, and home safety modules. It targets community dwelling older adults who have had a fall or have a fear of falling and has been shown to reduce falls by 30% in previous trials.


Local agencies that address this issue

Over the last decade, health practitioners and researchers have developed effective community fall prevention programs. There are public awareness programs, some focused on fitness and balance, and others with a broader, more comprehensive multi-disciplinary program.  They include:

These programs are supported by the National Council on Aging’s Center for Healthy Aging (and their Falls Free Coalition), CDC, US Administration on Aging, the Home Safety Council, and the Archstone Foundation.

Contact Missoula Aging Services for information about Missoula programs.


Related data


Risk factors include

Elders may experience a downward spiral starting with fear of falling, which leads to caution and restriction of physical activity, which leads to inactivity and isolation, which can lead to frailty, falls, and loss of independence.


Related information

Preventing Falls - American Academy of Family Physicians

Fall Prevention - Senior Living

Fall Prevention Programs - National Council on Aging

The Role of Exercise and Physical Activity -

Being active at home

Get your Daily Dose

Walking and bicycling

Links to health data, statistics and information from many national sources.

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