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January 20, 2010

The Patient Who FallsChallenges for Families, Clinicians, and Communities

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Office of Disability, Aging, and Long-Term Care Policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (Ms Katz), and US Administration on Aging (Ms Shah), Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC.

JAMA. 2010;303(3):273-274. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.2016

Falls are common and costly. In 2000, more than 2.6 million older adults experienced a fall-related injury, and their health costs related to fall injuries were estimated to exceed $19 billion (the most recent published cost estimate).1 As the US Congress and Obama administration tackle health care reform—and as public officials administer programs today—they should be mindful that one-third of people older than 65 years fall annually, and the odds of an injurious fall increase with age. Decision makers can support clinicians and their elder patients by initiating 3 essential policies to (1) support fall prevention, including promoting and paying for evidence-based care; (2) support community living, including a payment mechanism for informal caregivers; and (3) retool financing of long-term services and supports.

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