Keeping Your Family Safe | Articles & News

Reducing the Risk of Falls for Seniors

Scope of the Problem:
In Utah, falls are the most common cause of injury-hospitalization and the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for Utahns aged 65 and older.  On average, 95 Utahns aged 65 and older die from an unintentional fall every year.  Eight more are hospitalized every day due to a fall, resulting in a cost of over $406 million. 

How are we addressing the problem?
In Utah has adopted an evidence based; multi-faceted program called Stepping On. Check with your local health department or Agencies of Aging to see if they have Stepping On or their own fall prevention programs/activities.

What is Stepping On?
Stepping On is a community-based workshop offered once a week for seven weeks.  The program empowers older adults to carry out health behaviors that reduce the risks of falls, improves self-management, and increases quality of life.  Class participants develop specific knowledge and skills to prevent falls at home and in community settings.

Who would benefit from the workshop?
People who would benefit from Stepping On are those: (a) at risk of falling, (b) have a fear of falling, or (c) who have fallen one or more times in the past year

What should one expect from the workshop?
Participants will improve their balance and strength.  A licensed Physical Therapist introduces the exercises and addresses concerns related to the activity.  The use of canes, walkers and other mobility devices are also covered.

Participants will be able to recognize fall hazards in and around their homes and problem solve ways to reduce home fall hazards.  Such as, dim lighting, loose or worn floor coverings, cracked or uneven outdoor pathways, and cluttered walkways in the home.

Guest experts discuss vision and medication management.

What makes Stepping On effective?
It is the process in which Stepping On is taught that makes it effective. Classes are highly participative, where mutual support and success build the participants’ confidence in their ability to manage their health behaviors that reduce the risk of falls and to maintain active and fulfilling lives.

Does the Program replace existing programs and treatments?
No, the Stepping On Program will not conflict with existing programs or treatments.  We work closely with physical therapists, pharmacists, and other health professionals to address the individual concerns and questions of participants. 

How was the Program developed?
Stepping On is the work of Dr. Lindy Clemson, an occupational therapist from Australia.

How was the program evaluated and what were the results?
Stepping On was published in the September 2004 issue of the Journal of American Geriatrics Society. At the end of the study, Dr. Clemson found those completing Stepping On experienced a 31% reduction in falls. This demonstrated that the program was effective in preventing falls in community-residing older adults.

Click to find a Stepping On program near you.
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