New Report Highlights the Cost of Falls for Senior Living Communities

state of falls report logoFalls pose a significant risk when it comes to senior health. The CDC reports that an older adult, age 65+, suffers a fall every second in the United States. Falls are a leading cause of injury in older adults, and one out of four older adults experiences a fall each year.

Naturally, falls are a widespread concern in senior care settings, and they can have a significant impact on residents. The 2022 inaugural State of Falls report by SafelyYou focuses on not only how Americans feel about aging and falling, but also on the actual impact that falls have on adults who are living in and outside of senior living communities.

Fall Risk and Frequency

According to the report, Americans age 42 and older have a genuine fear of aging. That fear stems from anxiety about falls and deteriorating health, while some worry about caring for a loved one who is aging.

The report also reveals that 45% of Americans over age 42 have fallen in the past five years. Those who have experienced a fall felt embarrassment and shame most often (44%), while 43% of respondents felt anxiety. Nearly six out of 10 Americans who experienced a fall were injured.

In surveying more than 400 senior care executives and care providers, the report reveals that one in seven move-outs were related to falls. Assisted living communities and skilled nursing communities report an average of 260 resident falls per year, and 59% of respondents reported that a fall impacted their ability to provide residents with a high level of care.

The Impacts of Falls on Senior Care Settings

Even more eye-opening are the report’s findings about the impacts that falls have on senior living communities, their revenue, their staffing, and the quality of care they can provide. Of the executives surveyed, 85% reported that falls have a significant impact on staff turnover in their communities. They also noted that two out of three prospective residents or families ask about how the community prevents falls, which highlights the fact that resident safety, particularly when it comes to falling, is a top concern in choosing a senior living community.

Falls also have a significant financial impact on assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities. Across all of these facilities, falls have a direct annual cost of $380,000. The financial impact varies according to the organization size. Larger organizations of 20 or more communities face a fall-related annual cost of $712,000. The financial impact for smaller and mid-size organizations is $158,000.

Looking Forward to Fall Prevention

The report includes four recommendations for senior living communities looking to prevent resident falls:

  1. Create a safety and fall prevention team to focus specifically on resident falls and frequently reevaluate; and, if necessary, revise the fall prevention protocols in place.
  2. Regularly conduct fall training to ensure staff know how to effectively prevent falls through resident checks. Staff should also learn the appropriate steps to take after a fall has occurred.
  3. Use technology for fall prevention, which can help staff deliver high-quality care while preventing further resident falls.
  4. Use data to improve fall prevention by tracking when and how falls occur. Then use that information to adjust and improve safety protocols to better prevent falls. Video footage, for example, can be very helpful in identifying and then addressing fall risk factors.

As the report highlights, falls are a major concern and a safety risk for seniors, both in and outside of senior living communities. Falls can impact everything from staff retention to a community’s ability to attract new residents. The report provides valuable data about the true effects falls have on seniors and on senior care communities, drawing attention to the importance of implementing and continuously reviewing effective fall prevention efforts.

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