Falls and the injuries that result from them contribute to a pressing health issue in our nation, our state, and our Island County community. Data from the Harborview Injury Prevention Research Institute (HIPRC) finds that:
- Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults.
- More than one in four adults ages 65+ fall each year.
Older Adult Falls: A Pressing Issue in Island County
- Island County's median age is about 17% higher than the U.S. and Washington state median age.
- Throughout 2021 and 2022, falls were the leading cause of emergency department visits at WhidbeyHealth.
- From May 2021 to May 2022, there were 868 visits by Island County residents to the emergency department at WhidbeyHealth, coded as "Falls 65+"
- From May 2021 to May 2022, there were 739 visits by Island County residents to all other emergency departments across WA, coded as "Falls 65+"
- Rates of 65+ falls are higher for Camano Island residents than Whidbey Island residents.
Steps to Prevent Falls
As Island County's older adult population continues to grow, it is important for community members to be aware of the steps that they can take to prevent falling. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists four simple ways to prevent falls:
- Have your healthcare provider review your medicines
- Exercise to improve your balance and strength
- Have your eyes and feet checked
- Make your home safer
The STEADI initiative, curated by the CDC, provides a set of materials for health care providers to draw upon when screening and assessing patients with high fall risks and intervening in the treatment of these individuals. The STEADI toolkit contains information about the following topics:
- Screening options
- Information on medications linked to falls
- Standardized gait and balance assessment tests
- Online trainings that offer continuing education
- Educational resources for patients and caregivers