One in three adults 65 plus will fall each year. That means that 7,670 seniors will fall this year in Benton, Sherburne and Stearns counties. Minnesota leads the nation in deaths caused by unintentional falls. The St. Cloud Fire Department is called out to perform 1 to 2 lift assists (helping a person get up from a fall) of older adults per day - sometimes the same person multiple times in a week. Falls are the number one reason why older adults relocate into nursing homes and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that the average medical cost of a fall is $19,400. The statistics about falls are clear: falls are a rampant problem that is too frequently ignored.
RSVP has teamed up with the Central Minnesota Falls Prevention and Home Safety Coalition to reduce the number of falls that occur each year in Central Minnesota. The Coalition, which formed in 2010, is made up of members from the St. Cloud Police and Fire Departments, the St. Cloud Hospital, the Central MN Parish Nurse Ministry Committee, Central MN Council on Aging, Whitney Senior Center and RSVP.
While it may sound intimidating, a free Home Safety Assessment (HSA) provided by volunteers is anything but intimidating. HSA volunteers are RSVP volunteers who were trained by the Police and Fire Departments to provide Home Safety Assessments. HSA volunteers, who underwent thorough background checks, visit a home in pairs and the homeowner is encouraged to have an advocate with them as well. When the HSA volunteers arrive, they walk through the home, and using a checklist, look for any fall, fire and crime hazards. The assessors are not looking for cleanliness or dust; rather, they are looking to see if there are any simple changes such as the addition of night lights or grab bars that could make the home safer. We do not judge whether or not someone should remain in their homes, and do not give the information we collect during a Home Safety Assessment to any outside organization.
Check out these other great resources on falls prevention!