Talk to anyone who has helped a senior living community implement a fall-monitoring system and they’re sure to tell you that a lot of things have to be contemplated and considered well in advance of its installation.
At some point it became a cliché, a joke among TV watchers: “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” But it isn’t funny for seniors. While these advertisements brought to light the threat of falls for older adults, and even offered some solutions, technology has come a long way since then. In seeking out housing for the next stage of life, older Americans need to ask themselves whether they will be adequately protected against falls.
Like many aphorisms, “prevention is the best cure” has been overused to the point of becoming tired. Yet no five words could better summarize the value of a proactive approach in healthcare, especially in its sister calling, senior care.
Looking at the statistics that have been gathered regarding how many adults over the age of 65 fall in a given year—that would be one in three, by the way, according to the experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—it’s easy to understand why so many senior living operators are eager to learn all they can about technological advancements that could help their staffers better predict and respond to resident falls.
The cost of falls among the elderly has been well-documented. In 2013, for example, medical expenses related to fall injuries for people 65 and older was $34 billion, the Centers for Disease Control reports.
To understand the role of fall monitoring in increasing seniors’ independence, it helps to first take a look at how falls can diminish independence.
Falls are among the leading causes of older Americans losing their mobility. One out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) falls each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Some 2.5 million nonfatal falls were treated in the emergency room in CDC’s latest statistics, and 734,000 of these were hospitalized.
Too frequently, “care for frail older people is reactive, fragmented and does not meet patients’ needs,” say the authors of a recently published study on the benefits of proactive care for the elderly. Indeed, a reactive approach towards senior care has been dominant in the industry for decades due to the inherently demanding nature of the business. Without the tools, technologies and managerial perspectives to promote proactive care, providers have historically found that attending to residents’ immediate care needs commanded almost all of their resources.
Recent technological advancements in the senior living industry have made it possible for senior housing residents to live more comfortably, safely, and independently than ever before. These advancements, including intelligent monitoring systems that enable true preventative care and can warn caregivers before negative health events like falls ever occur, can improve quality of life for residents, while allowing senior community clinical directors to provide better quality of care for increasingly complex resident populations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that one out of three adults aged 65 or older fall each year, but less than half discuss the incident with their health care provider. When seniors aren’t talking, but continue to fall, health care providers know the combination can be a dangerous one.