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Children's Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock (CHad)
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Elderly

One out of three New Hampshire seniors, age 65 and older fall each year.

In 2002, 5,492 seniors in New Hampshire sought medical treatment in an emergency room because they fell, and an additional 1,855 needed to be hospitalized. This represented $3.5 million in total emergency room costs and $26.3 million in inpatient hospitalization costs.

For the most up to date information on falls prevention education, resources, and where to find evidence based falls prevention programming in New Hampshire please go to www.nhfallstaskforce.org.

Based on these statistics, the New Hampshire Falls Risk Reduction Task Force was formed. Made up of professionals from many disciplines, the Task Force looked at the large body of research existing in falls risk reduction. Research pointed towards the use of targeted multifactorial interventions, including:

  • Medical and personal risk factor assessments and modifications, such as adjustment of medications
  • Personalized exercise program to reverse impairments in muscle strength, balance, and gait. Group exercise programs that focus on these issues also are important
  • Home risk assessment and modifications
  • Educational programs
  • Ongoing education and technical assistance in the area of Falls Risk Reduction to professionals throughout the state.
  • Advocating routine screening for falls among primary health care providers with New Hampshire citizens 65 and older. This includes providing a lunchtime speaker program on how to incorporate falls screening into existing primary care practices.
  • Ongoing presentations and technical assistance to professionals (for example, primary care providers, home care agencies, Service Link directors, Rehabilitation Directors, EMTs, community health coalitions) on how they can implement these measures.
  • Development and dissemination of seven falls risk reduction “kits” which contain the tools necessary for falls risk assessment and intervention strategies. These kits are located throughout the state to be borrowed at no cost.
  • The development of its own educational program, Slips, Trips, and Falls: Avoid Them All (PDF). Separated into teaching modules, the program (which includes a presenter’s packet and participant handouts) can be used in a variety of settings and includes education on the various aspects of falls risk reduction. At its core is a large two-sided dollhouse built especially for the program. The SAFE HOUSE visually demonstrates a home, with an “unsafe” side and a “safer” side. This educational program is available at no cost statewide, with or without the SAFE HOUSE, to professionals and the public.
  • A social marketing campaign directed towards seniors. Based on information with over fourteen focus groups throughout the state, materials are being developed addressing the gaps in seniors’ knowledge on falls and falls risk reduction and their sense of the inevitability of falling. Currently, a public service announcement, designed by the Task Force, is being run on WMUR-TV. Additional announcements are going to be seen on statewide local cable access stations as well as in print form in local newspapers.
  • A collaboration with Senior Moments, an outgrowth of the Seacoast Repertory Theatre, to present a play on falls and falls risk reduction, to senior audiences throughout the state. The play was produced 13 times in senior centers and other venues throughout the state to a total audience of over 800. A videotape of the play is currently being disseminated statewide.
  • Ongoing analysis of the data regarding morbidity and mortality related to falls through linkage with the Bureau of Health Statistics and Data Management at NHDHHS.

Rates of death and hospitalizations from motor vehicle crashes, fire and poisoning have declined over the past decades as a result of concerted efforts involving public health, public safety and the business community. The same level of effort needs to be applied if we wish to see a decline in the rates involving falls.

The NH Falls Risk Reduction Task Force meets the first Tuesday of each month in Concord.

NH Falls Task Force Co-Chairs Contact information:

Debra Samaha
Program Director, Injury Prevention Center at Dartmouth
1 Medical Center Drive
Lebanon, NH 03756
Phone: (603) 308-2253
Email: Debra.Samaha@Dartmouth.edu

or

Dawna Pidgeon
Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center
1 Medical Center Drive
Lebanon, NH 03756
Phone: (603) 650-5978
Email: Dawna.M.Pidgeon@Hitchcock.org

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