Every second of every day in the United States an older adult falls. Every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in an emergency room for a fall. Every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall.
“How many times have you fallen in the past 12 months?”
That’s the first thing physical therapist Laura Wazen asks patients when they walk through the doors of her practice to undergo a balance assessment. And if statistics are any indication, it’s a question of growing importance. Deadly falls are on the rise.
Not every person who ends up at Equinox Physical Therapy thinks they have a balance problem – many are there because of pressure from either their family or doctor. She once had a patient deny they had a balance issue because they “only fell once or twice a day.”
In an overall spending picture researchers describe as “relatively stable” between 2002 and 2010, health care spending among adults 65 and older grew at a rate lower than all other age groups studied—a slowdown partly attributed to a Medicaid shift away from institutional care settings and toward home-based care.
The findings, e-published in the May 6 edition of Health Affairs, analyzed health care spending over a 9-year period in aggregate as well as by age and sex. Overall, authors wrote, personal health care spending in the US was approximately $2.2 trillion, or $7,097 per person in 2010—an amount that represents an average 5.1% annual growth rate from 2002.