James L. Tomarken, MD, MPH, MBA, MSW:
The Suffolk County Department of Health Services through the Division of Preventive Medicine has partnered with the New York State Department of Health to implement evidence-based community fall prevention programs that serve older adults. Our programs reach all regions of the county utilizing different resources and partnerships that provide falls prevention programming in Suffolk County communities. These programs are Staying Independent for Life, a two hour falls and injury prevention seminar for senior citizens, and Tai Chi for Arthritis provided in partnership with the Suffolk County YMCA. Between 2010 and 2016 these programs collectively reached over 11,000 senior citizen residents to teach them about how to prevent falls in the home and live independently.
Suffolk County is proud to be one of three counties in New York State selected by the New York State Department of Health Bureau of Injury Prevention in 2010 to implement comprehensive health education programs that focus on senior citizen health. Since 2010 Suffolk County Division of Preventive Medicine did not shy from the challenge of working toward preventing falls among the senior citizen population. In June 2015 The efforts of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services was recognized focusing on senior citizen fall prevention programs and was awarded the 2015 Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo) for its innovation in addressing this important public health issue.
The Suffolk County Fall Prevention Program for Senior Citizens is a model example of how county government can coordinate services with hospital systems, providers, and community based organizations to best serve its citizens utilizing support from New York State and maximizing limited resources. The long term goal of the fall prevention initiative in Suffolk County is to work with residents, providers and community organizations to support these groups in developing their own fall prevention programs guaranteeing the sustainability of the mission of educating the greatest number of senior citizens about the dangers associated with falls throughout the county.
Welcome to this website about how to protect yourself, your community or your patients from the dangers of fall related injuries.
Why think about falls?
Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury and deaths for senior citizens living in New York State. More than one in three over 65 years of age fall each year. Half of the senior citizen population are hospitalized due to a fall, and end up in a nursing home or rehabilitation center.
Note: Program is not only for people 65 and older; you can also be under 65 and still attend a falls prevention program. Research has indicated persons as young as age 50 who participate in preventive injury prevention activities increase their likely hood of staying healthy and staying independent as they grow older.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Census, between 2012 and 2050, “the United States will experience considerable growth in its older population. In 2050, the population aged 65 and over is projected to be 83.7 million, almost double its population of 43.1 million in 2012.”
According to the Center for Disease Control:
- 16% of older adults in U.S. have fallen at least one time in the past three months.
- 31% of older adults in the U.S. sustained an injury that resulted in a visit to a primary care provider.
In 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Census reports that the senior citizen is 14.9% of the total population in Suffolk County, New York.
- As of 2014, there are approximately 450,000 senior citizens who live in Suffolk County.
- In 2013, Suffolk County ambulance call data identifies 17% calls for EMT service was due to a falls related injury in Suffolk County, New York.
Recognizing the rapid increase in the senior citizen population and their needs related to injury prevention, Suffolk County Department of Health Services through the Division of Preventive Medicine implemented different falls prevention programs to meet this increasing public health need.