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Falls are the leading cause of injury death in older Americans and, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the death rate continues to rise. Fall Prevention Awareness Week (FPAW), September 20-24, 2021, is an opportunity for stakeholders to promote fall risk screening, address the impact of falls among older adults, and offer practical fall prevention solutions.

“Knowledge, inpatient interventions, community programs, and coalitions, are just a few of the tools that we can use to help alleviate the burden that falls cause,” commented Christina Zweber, MSN, RN, clinic nurse manager for Monument Health.

The South Dakota Fall Prevention Coalition (SDFPC) contributes to the cause by offering an updated toolkit with exercise videos, testimonials, news posts, social media, and more. The state-specific materials compliment the national FPAW Promotion Toolkit’s valuable fall prevention resources.

“The South Dakota Fall Prevention Coalition strives to increase knowledge and community engagement in fall prevention,” explained Leacey Brown, MS, gerontology field specialist for the South Dakota State University Extension. “This is the coalition’s second annual campaign and webinar. Representatives from Monument Health will describe the strategies they used to address falls among older adults. This will be a great opportunity for other health care providers to learn approaches to enhance their fall prevention efforts.

Back to Basics: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Fall Reduction webinar will be held on September 22, 2021, at 12:00 PM CT and highlight Monument Health’s fall prevention initiatives and innovative approaches using collaboration, data, and evidence-based practices.

The ten community-based and health care agencies of the Stand Strong Fall Prevention partnership will host fall prevention screenings in September followed by the launch of Bingocize and Staying Active and Independent for Life (SAIL) later this fall. Monument Health is just one of many organizations across South Dakota engaged in the SDFPC’s efforts to implement and expand fall prevention programs. Sanford Health recently received a three-year Administration for Community Living (ACL) Falls Prevention Grant aimed at creating sustainable evidence-based fall prevention programs in both rural and urban areas.

According to the CDC, the annual medical cost related to non-fatal fall injuries in the United States is $50 million, with an additional $754 million in costs related to fatal falls. Beyond the cost, quality of life after a fall injury can be greatly impacted. Reducing common risk factors through patient-centered care also reduces the potential for injury or death related to a fall.

  • Lower body weakness
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Difficulties with walking and balance
  • Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants
  • Vision problems
  • Foot pain or poor footwear
  • Home hazards or dangers: broken or uneven steps, throw rugs or clutter

Zweber recognizes the increased impact and value of contributing to a collective effort. “Being part of a coalition that works towards the teaching and implementation of interventions has been very rewarding, as I can see the impact that it has on our communities’ overall health.”