Centralina AAA Helps Reduce Falls Through NC Prevention Program

Did you know one in four older adults report a fall every year?

For most people, falls aren’t something they think about preventing until they themselves or someone they know experiences a fall. A common response for victims of a bad fall is to isolate themselves to prevent another fall, which can further put them in danger if unsupervised and increase the likelihood of depression and loneliness symptoms. Luckily, most falls are easily preventable with the right awareness education. Something as simple as going through a checklist to monitor fall hazards in your home can help prevent a fall.

For some older adults, making necessary modifications to increase accessibility in the home are great ways to prevent falls and promote mobility. Small home interventions, like grab bars, non-slip tape and motion-sensing lights make a large impact on an individual’s sense of safety and control within their home. While grab bars can help an older adult stand or stay steady safely, things like non-slip tape are helpful for any potential trip hazards in the house. Even something like an motion-sensing exterior light is helpful in not only helping the individual see outside, but also provides a sense of safety when leaving the home. Renovations like those mentioned, however, are often financially inaccessible for individuals and families.

The NC Fall Prevention Program, created and offered through the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, is a funded pilot program focused on preventing bad falls before they happen, specifically utilizing fall prevention education and small home modifications. Centralina Area Agency on Aging (AAA) participated as a provider through the pilot program period and provided constituents in the greater Charlotte area with low-level fall prevention home modifications and education. 

Participants were screened in through their healthcare provider and referred to a Centralina provider, who then conducted three home visits. These three home visits included an environmental assessment, fall prevention education and quality assurance assessment of the modifications installed. The environmental assessment helped determine what potential home modifications would promote mobility, allowing the provider time to also call attention to potential fall hazards in the home. During this home visit, providers further educated participants on the importance of clear walkways, minimal fall hazards and assistive modifications to encourage safe mobility in various areas of the home. Additional local resources were reviewed with participants, including applicable evidence-based health programs they could benefit from and information on Centralina AAA’s Housing Home Improvement Program. You can learn more about the Housing Home Improvement offerings through this recent article.

The pilot program closed the opportunity for home modifications on September 30th 2023. In total, Centralina AAA served 60 constituents in the greater Charlotte area, providing 346 home modifications. The most common fall prevention home modification provided was grab bars, with over 112 installed during the duration of the program. Exterior lighting and anti-slip materials were also highly requested, with 64 exterior motion-sensing lights and 40 anti-slip mats or tape installed for qualifying participants. All participants were also referred to “A Matter of Balance“, an evidence-based health program that encourages participants to change the way they think about falls and be proactive in fall prevention. Participating in programs like A Matter of Balance help to empower individuals to have a sense of control over not only their falls, but their response to falls. A Matter of Balance provides helpful information in advocating for yourself effectively, evaluating what may be a fall risk and seeking further resources to encourage movement.

For adults with a high-risk of falls, the NC Fall Prevention program provided peace of mind and essential resources. Clients who have experienced a fall since receiving the modifications have shared the grab bars they received have been helpful in their recoveries. One participant of the NC Fall Prevention Program is a retired teacher and has a history of falls. For her, the exterior motion-sensing lights and multiple grab bar installations help her to navigate her home with fall prevention in mind. She said the NC Fall Prevention Program has been an invaluable resource to her. “Working with Centralina has been so wonderful,” says the participant. “From the first home visit, Centralina shared resources with me an was so helpful in helping me get my modifications.”

If you are interested in learnings other ways to make your home a safe place for fall prevention, visit Check For Safety A Home Fall Prevention Checklist For Older Adults (cdc.gov).