In 2012, an estimated 3.2 million older adults received medical treatment for injuries related to falls, with many of these injuries resulting in decreased independence, a need for long-term-care support, and increased risk for early death. There were also 24,190 fatal falls. Falls remain the leading cause of injury and death among older adults, with a 2015 estimated total medical cost for fatal and nonfatal fall injuries of $30.9 billion (Burns, Stevens, & Lee, 2016).
possess the critical skills needed to address fall prevention with older adults. Research supports that fall causes are multi-factorial in nature, influenced by conditions within the individual, within the environment, and as a result of the interaction between the two.
The most successful falls prevention initiatives are those that use a multi-faceted approach.
Occupational therapy practitioners are skilled at evaluating and addressing influences from the person, their activity roles and routines, and the environment to maximize independence for older adults.
Linking clients’ goals and priorities with modifications and adaptations that support their ability to participate in meaningful activities are hallmarks of occupational therapy.
Occupational therapy practitioners work with the client and caregivers to review the home environment for hazards and evaluate the individual for limitations that contribute to falls.
Recommendations often include a combination of interventions that target improving physical abilities to safely perform daily tasks, modifying the home, and changing activity patterns and behaviors.
Occupational therapy services regularly include training clients, families, and interdisciplinary team members on strategies to support these fall prevention initiatives.