For older adults, falls are a leading cause of death, hospitalization, illness, mobility restriction and reduced quality of life, and the costs associated with these incidents are expected to escalate as the aging population increases in number. So what is the most cost-effective way of preventing falls?
Researchers from the Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, conducted a systematic literature review and analysis to determine the most cost-effective fall reduction programs for older adults living in their communities and for their peers in assisted-living centers. The study was published in the NSW Public Health Bulletin (2011; 22 [3–4], 60–68).
Fall prevention strategies included group-based exercise; home-based exercise; tai chi; vitamin D supplementation; education; clinical medication review; vision and eye examinations; expedited cataract surgery; cardiac pacing; psychotropic medication withdrawal; and various combinations of these methods. Data analysis showed that based on a “cost per fall” or “hospitalization avoided” analysis, tai chi was the most cost-effective strategy for older adults living independently. Medication review and vitamin D supplementation were most cost-effective for those in residential care facilities.
Further research was recommended.