Bergen Hospital's Fall Prevention Program Is First In NJ

July 3, 2023 0 By JohnValbyNation

BERGEN COUNTY, NJ — A local hospital has become the first in New Jersey to offer a formal program aimed at preventing falls in older adults.

Hackensack University Medical Center has just announced the creation of the Falls Risk Assessment Program, in which experts trained in geriatric medicine evaluate risk and prescribe a plan to reduce said risk and maintain independence.

“Falls are an important health hazard for older adults,” Manisha Parulekar, chair of HUMC’s Division of Geriatric Medicine, said. “…just one serious fall can change a person from being fully independent to becoming reliant on others and in need of resources.”

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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in four older adults (that is, 3 million people) fall each year, but less than half tell their doctors. Falling once, the CDC said, doubles the chances of falling again.

“Our goal is to prevent falls from happening, and if a person has already had a fall, to prevent another fall from occurring,” added physician Owen Deland, who is leading the new program at Hackensack. “When someone has had a fall, they may be fearful of falling again and become more sedentary, leading to further de-conditioning, increasing their risks for another fall significantly. We want to arm patients with knowledge and tools to reduce that fear and build strength, balance, and confidence.”

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Falls, in fact, are the No. 1 cause of hospital admissions in older adults, according to the American Geriatric Society.

“The older a person is when they fall, the more likely they will (need) to go to a nursing home for at least a year,” the AGS said.

Through HUMC’s falls risk program, older adults are screened for factors such as gait and balance problems, cognitive impairment and home environment hazards. After examining the patient(s), the team personalizes a “plan of care” that may include physical therapy referrals and recommendations, or assessment of medications.

“If you or your loved one is limiting activities due to a fear of falling, we encourage you to come to our program,” HUMC Dr. Parulekar said. “We can help you improve your independence so you can live life in the community safely and maintain the best quality of life possible.”

People interested in learning more about the Falls Risk Assessment Clinic may call HUMC’s Division of Geriatric Medicine at 551-996-1140.

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