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Elderly Falls Prevention Legislation and Statutes

Elderly Falls Prevention Legislation and Statutes

3/10/2015

Each year in the United States, one in three adults over 65 years of age falls. Long-term physical injuries, such as hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries, are merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of consequences and costs of older adult falls.

  • About 20 to 30 percent of older adult falls cause moderate to serious injuries that can limit mobility, diminish quality of life, and increase the risk of premature death.
  • Fall death rates have risen sharply in the past decade. Between 2000 and 2010, fall death rates rose 63 percent for men and 83 percent for women.
  • Falls cause over 95 percent of hip fractures and are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury.
  • One-in-five people who sustain a hip fracture die within a year following their injury.
  • Annually, falls among older adults are responsible for more than 20,000 deaths, 2.4 million emergency department visits, and more than $30 billion in direct medical costs.

Fall Death Rates among Adults Aged 65 and Older, 2010

Age-Adjusted Rates per 100,000 People

Fall death rates among older adults

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: Where no data are available, the number of fatal older adult falls is too small to calculate a stable rate. Sources: National Conference of State Legislatures, 2013; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013; and National Council on Aging, 2013.

The State Role

Falls are not an inevitable part of aging and are largely preventable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed a fall prevention tool kit for health care providers called STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths and Injuries) to help them reduce falls by implementing the American Geriatrics Society’s clinical guideline for fall prevention.

Some strategies to reduce falls include:

  • Providing incentives to primary care providers to integrate falls risk assessment and fall prevention activities into their practice.
  • Supporting continuing medical education courses that teach health care providers how to assess and reduce the risk of falls through treatment and/or referral to evidence-based fall prevention programs.

 

Return to the injury and violence prevention overview page to learn about other topics and additional resources.


Legislation

Below is a list of enacted legislation through 2014 that addresses falls among older adults. To view current state actions related to falls, and other injury and violence prevention topics, please visit NCSL's Injury and Violence Prevention Legislation Database.

Legislation Through 2014

State

Session Law and Statute Information

California

Cal. Health and Safety Code §125704 (California Osteoporosis Prevention and Education Act) Requires the department of health services to develop effective protocols for the prevention of falls and fractures and establish these protocols in community practice to improve the prevention and management of osteoporosis.

Cal. Welfare and Institutions Code §9450 Requires the development of the "aging in place" concept be recognized and supported by the state as a means to retaining elders in their home with less injury. Requires that funding for education and making home improvements be facilitated through public and private sources. Requires that recommendations for changes in home modification policies and information for home modification projects and products be developed.

Connecticut

Conn. Gen. Stat. §17b-33 Establishes a fall prevention program within the department of social services that: supports research, development and evaluation of risk identification and intervention strategies; establishes a professional education program in fall prevention; and oversees and supports demonstration and research projects.

Florida

Fl. Stat. § 944.804 Requires the department of corrections to establish and operate a geriatric facility where generally healthy elderly offenders can perform general work appropriate for their physical and mental condition in order to decrease the likelihood of falls, accidental injury and other conditions known to be particularly hazardous to the elderly.

Hawaii

Hawaii Rev. Stat. § 321-225.5 Establishes a fall prevention and early detection coordinator within the Department of Health's Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention System Branch responsible for coordinating provision of public and private services that focus on fall prevention and early detection for older adults.

Illinois

Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 210 §155/20 Requires long-term care hospitals to report data on elderly falls to the department of healthcare and family services as part of the Long-Term Care Hospital Quality Improvement Transfer Program. Participating hospitals must report the number of falls with injury per 1,000 patient days in accordance with guidelines established by the Fall Prevention Protocol of the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI) and the number of falls among discharged long-term care hospital patients whose fall during the hospital stay necessitated an ancillary or surgical procedure.

Massachusetts

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 111, §224 Establishes a commission on falls prevention within the department of public health.
Minnesota 2013 Minn. Laws, Chap. 108 Establishes requirements for instructors, training content, and competency evaluations for unlicensed personnel. This training includes the prevention of falls for providers working with the elderly or individuals at risk of falls. (2013 House Bill 1233/Senate Bill 1034)
New Mexico

New Mexico Stat., Ch. 37, § 1, 24-1-36 (2014 HB 99) Establishes a statewide and community-based older adult fall risk awareness and prevention program.

Oregon Or. Rev. Stat. §410.420 Requires funds appropriated through Oregon Project Independence to be used for services to support community care givers and strengthen the natural support systems for seniors including fall prevention activities.

Texas

Tex. Human Resources Code Ann.  §161.351-3 Establishes "Fall Prevention Awareness Week." Allows the state's department of aging and disability services to develop recommendations to: raise public awareness about fall prevention; educate older adults and individuals who provide care to older adults about best practices to reduce the incidence and risk of falls among older adults; encourage state and local governments and the private sector to promote policies and programs that help reduce the incidence and risk of falls among older adults; encourage area agencies on aging to include fall prevention education in their services; develop a system for reporting falls to improve available information on falls; and incorporate fall prevention guidelines into state and local planning documents that affect housing, transportation, parks, recreational facilities and other public facilities.

Washington

Wash. Rev. Code §43.70.705 Requires the department of social and health services to establish a statewide fall prevention program, including: networking with community services; identifying service gaps, making affordable senior-based, evaluated exercise programs more available; providing consumer education to older adults, their adult children, and the community at large; and conducting professional education on fall risk identification and reduction.

Wash. Rev. Code §74.39A.074 Requires long-term care workers to complete 70 hours of long-term care basic training on "core competencies," including fall prevention.

Additional Resources

NCSL Resources

Other Resources

  • CDC Overview of Elderly Falls This website provides information, resources, and publications related to the prevention of elderly falls, including tools and resources for practitioners and caregivers.
  • Relevant Interventions to Prevent Falling in Older Adults The information in this article is provided by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and is intended to help clinicians, employers, policymakers and others make informed decisions about the provision of health care services
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