€ 1 billion costs and 13 death per day for older adults falling
In 2018 as a result of a fall incident 13 people per day lose their lives the Netherlands. Every five minutes an older adult visits an Emergency Department (ED) following a fall. It is estimated that the number of fall-related hospital visits and fatalities will keep increasing in the next ten years.
In 2018 in the Netherlands 108.000 older adults (65-plus) were brought into the Hospital ED as a result of falling at home. Two third suffered serious injuries on hip, head or brain.
In the Netherlands, €960 million was spent on these injuries in 2018, which is equivalent to an average direct medical cost of €8.400 per patient. For 2019 the older adult’s fall-related costs will surpass €1 billion.
Between 1997 and 2016 in the Netherlands,
- Absolute numbers of fall-related an Emergency Department visits increased by 48%,
- Hospital admissions increased by 59%, and mortality showed an almost threefold increase.
- These absolute numbers doubled among adults aged ≥85 years
- The number of hospital admissions has also increased, but the total number of admission days has almost halved during the same period
- skull/brain injury increased by almost a tenfold
Over time, changes have also occurred in the location of the fall. Specifically, absolute numbers of falls in- and around the house have increased from 1997 to 2016, whereas falls on the street, without involvement of other road users, decreased.
Exercise programs, Home assessment- and Medication adjustment programs, Multifactorial programs and other programs proved to be preventive and effective programs. This implies that investing in falls prevention programs for adults aged 60 years and older is cost-effective. Moreover, programs are found to be more cost-effective as the age of participant’s increases.
Technology and Fall Detection
Critical to minimize personal distress and fall-related healthcare costs is rapid-response at fall incidents.
As older adults live longer independently and alone, technology could help to maximize mobility comfort and emergency support when it is most needed. If an older adult falls, is in pain, lost or panics, every minute counts to provide the help that is needed. Immediate communication and early intervention dramatically reduces medical costs, but even more important, older adult fall-victims will suffer a lot less stress and trauma from the incident if fall-alarm or call for help is responded immediately.
Internet of Things
Traditional @home alarm and fall detection solutions are bulky and complex to install. Installation usually comes with serious unaffordable costs for many older adults. With the ‘Internet of Things’ new, slim, smart and cost effective solutions come into play. Solutions that are easy to use and simple to deploy for care provider and care receivers alike. Innovative technology, the variety of in/outdoor connectivity and interplay with sensors and telecom can be a game-changer in @home care for our older adults.
Financing fall prevention
Branko Oijl’s research asked a panel how falls prevention should be financed. Financing falls prevention through private health insurance (n = 21/61; 34%) was indicated the most. Full financing by elderly was not indicated by any of the panel members (n = 0/61; 0%). These answers show that older adults feel committed to contribute to costs for improvement of their health, well-being and safety, but as most older adults are living from small pensions the full amount of costs are too high.
Conclusion – Return on Investment (ROI) for Insurers and Society:
There are various directions for improving falls prevention activities and how to increase participation rates. Awareness and referrals to falls prevention programs with structural follow-up, and stimulating participation indicate considerable room for improvement. Early detection of fall risk and @home deployment of new technologies for rapid response at fall incidents offer healthcare insurers and care institutions a range of profitable and meaningful business cases.
Profitable ROI: “Prevention and Detection is saving costs for Cure and Care”
Meaningful ROI: “An investment with immediate improvement on older adults’ health, live and wellbeing”.
- Thesis study by Branko Olij: The impact and prevention of fall-related injuries among older adults – this publication was support by the Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, and the Erasmus University Rotterdam
- NRC 4 December 2019 article by Frederiek Weeda: Jaarlijks vierduizend ouderen dood door een val – hoe kan dat?
- VeiligheidNL – Cijferrapportage Valongevallen ouderen in de privésfeer 2018 VeiligheidNL – Infographic cijfers Valongevallen 2018