Finding Our Balance

Because falling isn’t “normal”

Falls aren’t a normal part of aging, and most falls are preventable. Even so, in Washington state falls were the number one cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for adults ages 65 and older from 1999 to 2017. Falling can lead to a rapid decline in health and premature death for older adults. In fact, 943 Washingtonians died in 2017 due to falls-related injuries.

That’s why we created Finding Our Balance: Washington State Action Plan for Older Adults Falls Prevention, a five-year plan made possible with the support from the Aging and Long-Term Support Administration.

“Finding Our Balance” has six strategy areas for preventing falls in Washington:

  1. Strong and effective community partnerships
  2. Public awareness and education
  3. Prevention across the continuum of care
  4. Expanded reach and access to evidence-based programs and community screenings
  5. Effective interventions for high-risk and underserved older adults
  6. Improved safety in homes and communities

In the plan, we set goals for each strategy area, and outcome measures for falls-related deaths and hospitalizations. In adults age 65 and over, we hope to reduce the rate of falls-related hospitalizations by 5 percent and deaths by 3 percent. And in adults age 85 and over, we hope to reduce the rate of both hospitalizations and deaths by 5 percent. We also set specific outcomes to help address higher rates of hospitalizations in Yakima County and deaths in Spokane County.

Working together with the community

The action plan is led by six workgroups, which include members of the public. Each workgroup will have an integral role in helping carry out the action plan. Professionals and volunteers working with older adults are encouraged to join the workgroups. Are you interested in getting involved? We’re recruiting members now to share their expertise and insight.

Author: Carolyn Ham is the Older Adult Falls Prevention Specialist at the Washington State Department of Health.

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