Published July 25, 2013
One in eight adults ages 65 and older suffer falls every year, and since more than 40 million seniors are aging in place, many of these accidents occur in the home.
Even among seniors who are relatively healthy and agile, falling is the most common cause of traumatic brain injury and the leading cause of injury death. More than half the falls suffered by seniors are not reported, but even at that, more than 2.3 million nonfatal-fall injuries in seniors are treated in emergency departments every year and more than 660,000 result in hospitalization. The cost is upwards of $30 billion a year.
To help prevent such accidents, UB researchers and occupational therapists have created and are disseminating the Home Safety Self-Assessment Tool (HSSAT), which offers specific information about ways to prevent falls among individuals 65 years of age and older.
The tool also cites helpful safety devices and products, and offers the names and numbers of Western New York businesses and free services prepared to help with structural and equipment issues. These resource lists can be adapted easily to any locale.
An article describing HSSAT, titled “Occupational Therapy Community Practice and Home Assessments: Use of the Home Safety Self-Assessment Tool (HSSAT) to Support Aging in Place,” was published in the July 13 issue of the journal Occupational Therapy in Health Care.
The HSSAT is available on several related senior health-related websites, among them the aging research site at UB.
It consists of seven sections:
The HSSAT was developed by the Occupational Therapy Geriatric Group in the UB Department of Rehabilitation Science, School of Public Health and Health Professions.
Members of the group are Susan Nochajski, director of the Occupational Therapy Program; Jo Schweitzer, director of occupational therapy clinical education; Machiko R. Tomita, director of aging and technology research; and Sheela Rajendran, a graduate occupational therapy student.
The authors of the journal report are Nochajski, Schweitzer and Beverly Horowitz of York College, City University of New York.