Insurers look to prevent costly falls in older members

As the elderly population continues to grow and people live longer, insurers are looking for ways to reduce costly falls of their most frail members, reported the International Business Times.

One in three Americans 65 and older will suffer a fall, which is the leading cause of injuries like gashes, fractures and head trauma in older adults. 

That's why Medicare released a new national action plan to prevent falls and allocated $5 million to form a National Falls Prevention Resource Center.

"There's really been a heightened federal interest in falls in the last five or six years," Helen Lamont, of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told the IBT.

A recent study showed that seniors often over-estimate their ability to perform tasks after they're discharged from the emergency department, putting them at greater risks for falls and complications, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

One of Medicare's fall prevention programs, called LIFT Wellness, lowered participants' fall rates by 11 percent after one year. And their long-term insurance claims dropped by about 33 percent over three years.

The LIFT Wellness program sends nurses into the homes of older adults for a consultation to identify hazards throughout the home that could contribute to a fall, including loose carpeting and electrical cords.

The nurses then offer personalized, low-tech and low-cost steps the patients can take to reduce the risk of falling. The recommendations are also sent to participants' physicians. That's a crucial step because "older people tend to listen to their physicians," Jon Pynoos, co-director of the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence at University of Southern California-Davis, told the IBT.

Tina Paulson, nurse manager at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital in Ware, Massachusetts, previously told FierceHealthcare that it's important to educate patients about fall prevention to ensure they have all necessary equipment at home for their safety, such as a cane or walker, to help avoid unnecessary falls.

To learn more:
- read the IBT article