KEEPING SENIORS HEALTHY:
Helping Your Patients Keep Their Balance —
One out of three people 65 and older fall each year. EmblemHealth developed a fall prevention program called Steps-4-Safety PATH. You can help reduce the chance that your patients, our members, will fall and suffer serious injuries, such as hip fractures and traumatic brain injury.
CMS Is Watching
Did you know that every year the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) surveys Medicare health plan members about their physical and mental health during the past 12 months? Their fall history and associated risks are among the questions they are asked.
How Do Your Patients Rate You?
CMS asked your patients to report whether or not their doctor has discussed the subject of fall prevention and if you’ve given them information to help prevent falls or have treated those with problems with balance and/or walking. Patients may be asked if their doctors have done any of the following:
- Suggested a cane or walker when there may be issues with balance and walking
- Checked blood pressure – both lying and standing
- Suggested an exercise or physical therapy program to improve overall strength and balance
- Suggested vision or hearing testing
As you consider your patients’ risk for falls, here are some quick assessment opportunities:
- Ask your patients if they have fallen, have difficulty walking, have balance problems or a fear of falling.
- Ask your patients to bring in all medication bottles for review, including vitamins, herbal supplements and any other OTC medications.
- Conduct a TUG (Timed Up and Go) Test to assess gait, balance and mobility level.
- Assess muscle strength, visual acuity, neurological function, cognitive evaluation, lower extremity evaluation and examination of their feet and footwear.
- Know your patients’ perceived functional ability and fear related to falling.
The CDC’s Injury Center created the Stopping Elderly Accidents, Death and Injury (STEADI) Toolkit, a free resource guide to assist health care providers with the tools they need to assess/address their patients’ fall risk. This guide also helps with fall prevention conversations with your patients. The STEADI Toolkit can be downloaded or ordered online.