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The McCarthy Report

The Rising Cost of Falls

 

In part one of this podcast, we examine the risk of falls in older adults, which is threatening to cost taxpayers over $30B by 2020.

In part two, we look at the thousands of older adults in Larimer County that are part of the LGBT community, and they are facing huge challenges that will cost more to taxpayers if not managed. Project Visibility is Colorado based program to help communities do just that.

One of the classic commercials from the eighties was the one for Life Alert, where Mrs. Fletcher made sure that we knew she had fallen and couldn’t get up. That commercial has generated numerous humor bits since then. But it’s time to take another more serious look at these falls that occur within our older population. Why? Because they are costing American taxpayers a hell of a lot of money, and there are practical measures that can decrease the risks of falling. Let me share with you some statistics obtained from the CDC (Center for Disease Control & Prevention) about how the costs of treating injuries from falls have risen. In 1998 the average health care cost for people age 72 or older who had a fall injury was $19,440. This included hospital ER, nursing home stay, home healthcare and rehab. In 2012, that cost had risen to almost $35,000. I don’t have any numbers for this year 2014. But I do know the total cost of these falls to older people is growing, and I know that the lion’s share gets paid by Medicare, which is funded by you and me paying taxes every paycheck. In 2010, falls among older adults cost the US healthcare system $30 billion in direct medical costs. Seventy-eight percent of those costs were reimbursed by Medicare. That’s $23.4 billion! With the population aging at the rate of 10,000 people a day in the US turning 65, both the number of falls and the costs to treat fall injuries will most certainly arise—especially hip fractures, which are the most costly and deadly of fall-related injuries.

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