Dakota Geriatrics Group celebrates Falls Prevention Awareness Week and works to reduce older adult falls
GRAND FORKS, N.D.—Each year, thousands of educators, caregivers, health professionals and older adults across the country focus their efforts on one goal: preventing falls. That is why Dakota Geriatrics joins the National Council on Aging (NCOA) to promote Falls Prevention Awareness Week Sept. 21-25.
The UND-based, Dakota Geriatrics program is a partnership between the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS), the North Dakota State Division on Aging Services and Health Promotion, UND Center for Rural Health, Sanford Health Care, Good Samaritan Society, Alzheimer’s Association, Memory Café, North Dakota State University, and South Dakota State University, among other organizations. The group came together when Dr. Donald Jurivich, chair of the Department of Geriatrics at the UND SMHS, was awarded a $3.75 million grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) to advance geriatrics education and health care transformation in the Dakotas.
Advanced age is a growing socioeconomic and health issue in North Dakota, whose population ranks fourth out of 50 American states and the District of Columbia for “oldest–old” status (citizens age 85 and up). Falls in particular are a leading cause of injury for people in this cohort. North Dakota has one of the highest rates for falls in the country.
But there are proven ways to prevent falls, said Dr. Jurivich.
“Falls are obviously a very serious issue for our seniors—and it's costly to families, health systems and insurers,” he said. “Sadly, they’re the leading cause of death and the most common cause of hospital admissions among older adults. And the cost of falls is in the billions annually, the burden of which is carried largely by Medicare and Medicaid. That’s why we need to work harder to prevent falls.”
Across the country, groups like the Dakota Geriatrics program are hosting classes and seminars, performing thousands of falls risk screenings, and educating older adults about evidence-based falls prevention programs. South Dakota State University Extension, for example, has developed a video series to help strengthen the body at home and prevent falls. Additionally, Sanford Southpoint clinic in Fargo, N.D., a UND Geriatrics affiliate, provides the only clinic in the region to specifically evaluate and manage fall risk.
“Falls prevention is a team effort that takes a balance of education, intervention, and community support,” said Kathleen Cameron, senior director of NCOA’s National Falls Prevention Resource Center. “This is an opportunity to empower and educate everyone about their roles in preventing falls.”
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Brian James Schill
Assistant Director, Office of Alumni & Community Relations
University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences
701.777.2733 direct | 701.777.4305 office
brian.schill@UND.edu | www.und.edu