The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that a comprehensive prevention program it developed may help reduce falls and the resulting use of long-term care such as nursing homes.
The program, which according to the release includes clinical in-home assessments of health, physical functioning, falls history, home environment, and medications to create customized recommendations, was developed based on research evidence on risk factors and interventions.
The release explains that, using a randomized controlled trial, HHS tested the new program among long-term care insurance policy holders age 75 and older to determine the intervention’s effectiveness and impact on long-term care utilization.
The study, which was published recently in Health Affairs, found that the program led to significantly lower rates of falls over a 1-year period, the release continues. Those who received the intervention had a 13% lower rate of falls and an 11% reduction in risk of falling compared to the control group. Participants also had a significantly lower rate of injurious falls.
Long-term care insurance claims were 33% lower over a 3-year period. The intervention, which cost $500 per person to administer, saved $838 in healthcare costs per person, according to the release.
Falls occur in one in three people age 65 and older every year and cost an estimated $35 billion in healthcare spending in 2014. They are also a leading risk factor for needing long-term care at home or in a nursing facility, the release notes.
Considering the impact of falls, HHS reports that findings from this study could give hope for reducing the rate of falls among the growing population of older adults.
“While falls are preventable, we need to intervene at the right time in a way that is comprehensive and yet individually tailored,” explains Richard Frank, PhD, the assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at HHS, whose office funded the study.
“Preventing falls helps everyone: the older person, their family, and the health and long-term care systems. And this study shows that by investing in falls prevention, we can reduce long-term care use and spending,” he shares.
Future research will examine the new intervention’s impact on healthcare utilization and costs, per the release.
“We expect to see a similar or greater return on investment in terms of healthcare costs,” Frank adds.
Visit http://aspe.hhs.gov/daltcp/reports/fallexpfr.htm for more information about the intervention and the study design.
[Source: US Department of Health and Human Services]