Strength in Numbers: A Community Education Program to Prevent Falls in Older Adults

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Abstract

The incidence and consequences of falls for older adults are well documented and well known to home care clinicians. In the absence of a falls-prevention program targeting older adults living in the community, home healthcare professionals at Cooley Dickinson VNA & Hospice in Northampton, MA, observed a high rate of falls and hip fractures. The clinicians designed a falls reduction program titled Strength in Numbers, an evidence-informed, multifaceted approach offered in community settings such as local senior centers and retirement communities. Physical and occupational therapists presented sessions that addressed risk factors for falls: fear of falling, strength, balance, medications, vision, and home safety. This article describes the program, its evolution and expansion, and outcomes. Between 2008 and 2015, 1,974 people received falls-prevention education through one of several variations of Strength in Numbers. Nearly 20% of those returning for a follow-up session who had fallen before did not fall again after completing it. Presenters recorded statistically significant improvement for participants in Single-Leg Standing, Timed Up and Go, and Functional Reach tests.

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