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Missoula Measures - Falls Among Older Adults


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.

How are we doing?

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

Fortunately, over the last decade, health practitioners and researchers have developed effective community fall prevention programs. Some are public awareness programs, some are focused on fitness and balance, and others are broader, more comprehensive multi-disciplinary programs. With research, a little bit of funding at the state level and growing community-based collaborations, 2010 looks to be a break-through year for Fall Prevention Programs in Montana. California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Maine and Texas are some states that have developed various Fall Prevention Programs. Tai Chi, A Matter of Balance, Stay Active and Independent for Life, Safe Steps, and Stepping On are examples of programs that have gained national attention. 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 have all supported research and program developments and have website resources available.

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.



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


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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