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Senior Housing > Blog > 2016 > September

The Dangers of Falls for Seniors

As we get older there are many things that can go wrong, from debilitating diseases to the loss of range of motion and stability. With this in mind, we thought we would talk about the leading cause of injury and death among seniors today – falls. While for many of us, the notion of falling is just something that happens when we are clumsy and not paying attention, but it is always something we bounce back from. However, for the elderly, this isn’t always the case. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 30 million older adults fall every single year, making it the top cause of injury and death in this age group.

This may come as a shock to many, but for others it is all-too common of an occurrence. As we age, it is no secret that we lose our ability to perform everyday tasks that came with ease in our younger years. It can be extremely frustrating for seniors to experience falls, as they simply cannot bounce back like they used to. There are many different reasons for this, from loss of strength to weakened bones and other ailments that keep them down. Before we go any further, let’s look at the facts about falls and seniors:

  • Of the almost 30 million falls, 7 million resulted in injuries (which is about $31 billion in annual Medicare costs)
  • Falls are to blame for more than 27,000 deaths among seniors every single year in the United States
  • Approximately one-third of the senior population over the age of 65 falls each year
    • The risk of falls increases proportionately with age
    • At 80 years of age, more than half of seniors fall every year
  • Many falls go undocumented or reported, which means that these numbers are likely much greater
  • Those who fall are two to three times more likely to fall again
  • Approximately half (53 percent) of seniors who are discharged for fall-related injuries will experience another fall within 6 months
  • 87 percent of all fractures among the elderly are due to falls
  • Falls account for 25 percent of all hospital admissions and 40 percent of all nursing home admissions
  • While many falls do not result in injury, about 47 percent of all non-injured fallers cannot get up without assistance
  • Approximately 1 in 5 falls results in a serious injury (such as broken bones or a head injury)

As you can see, falls are no laughing matter among seniors. In order for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) to adequately care for their senior residents, it is of the utmost importance that they have a system in place aimed to prevent falls from occurring. With more and more attention being placed on quality of care in senior living communities and other SNFs, it is essential that we work together in order to keep our senior residents safe and comfortable.

To learn more about falls and seniors or anything else related to the skilled nursing industry, please do not hesitate to contact Shep Roylance of JCH Senior Housing Group today.

The Current State of the Skilled Nursing Medicare System

It isn’t always easy to keep up with the movers and shakers of skilled nursing, but it is important to make an effort to do so. Just this week we learned that skilled nursing Medicare reimbursement will be cut by 8%, which is a big deal and something to pay attention to. Before we get into all that, let’s take a brief look at the measure in question and what we can expect.

Understanding the Medicare Post-Acute Care Value-Based Purchasing Act of 2015

Back in July 2015, a measure called the Medicare Post-Acute Care Value-Based Purchasing Act of 2015, which had numerous sections aimed at redefining the post-acute care system. Over the last year and a half, the bill has been under review. We have recently learned that the bill may soon come out of committee and be put to a vote. There are several talking points of the measure that may impact the may in which post-acute care providers treat Medicare patients. This would extend to home health agencies, skilled nursing facilities, inpatient rehab facilities, long-term care hospitals, and hospice agencies. As you can imagine, this is a big deal and could drastically change the landscape of skilled nursing in regards to Medicare patients.

We aren’t going to get into the logistics of the bill itself (you can find out more here) but one thing we would like to point out is that the policy places a lot of importance on the overall performance of a provider. This means that skilled nursing providers would be required to perform on the Medicare Spending per Beneficiary (MSPB) metric system while at the same time offering their support to other local operations to do the same.

What’s the Problem?

One of the main areas of concern with the measure is the notion of how bonus payments will be funded, which could be impacted by the new scoring system and regulations set in place by the bill. If the bill were to pass, in 2019 Medicare would begin reducing payments to post-acute providers by a whopping 3 percent in order to create a pool of funds to be drawn from for bonuses. According to the layout of things, the payment reduction would increase annually, reaching 8 percent by 2025. This is where things get complicated. Some providers will get back some of the reduction in kickbacks through bonuses, but it’s safe to say that some will not. The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) would have the final say, which is raised questions for some within the skilled nursing industry.

The big problem here is that, given that fact that skilled nursing facilitators are often faced with narrow margins as it is, this additional reduction could lead to added stress and complications.

We will keep you updated on the measure as we learn more and will be keeping a watchful eye on whether or not it goes to a vote, and what the outcome is. For more information on issues impacting the skilled nursing community, please do not hesitate to contact Shep Roylance of JCH Senior Housing Group.

Social Media Use is Good for Seniors, Seriously

A report conducted by the national Health and Retirement Study indicates that social media use by seniors may actually decrease the risk of depression and other problematic chronic illnesses. According to the study, older adults who are active on social media platforms – such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Skype – are in much better health and show fewer depressive symptoms than those who refrain from using technology in any capacity. Furthermore, senior Americans who say they surf the web and use apps on their smartphone also are at a lower risk of developing serious chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

While the overall impact of social media and technology as a whole on our society (particularly younger generations) is still up for debate, the above mentioned report indicates that social media use is something seniors should embrace. Another important talking point in the report was that the “digital divide” that many experts point to is not as bad as we used to think. You will often hear people talk about the growing gap between younger and older technology users, but research indicates this isn’t as bad as it used to be. In fact, 95% of the seniors surveyed in the study say that they enjoy technology, and 72% of those surveyed reported being open to learning about new technologies and social media platforms.

How Technology Can Help Seniors

Here is a look at a few of the top ways technology – specifically social media – can help seniors, especially those living in nursing homes or other skilled nursing facilities (SNFs):

  • Prevent loneliness – When asked why they enjoyed social media one of the top reasons given by seniors was that it prevents loneliness and allows them to stay in touch with family members and loved ones. Social media is a wonderful tool that allows seniors to gain a little insight into the lives of their kids, grand kids, and even great grand kids. They are even at times able to reconnect with college roommates, old neighbors, and friends from a lifetime ago.
  • Research – As with many of us, seniors enjoy using social media in order to learn more about topics that interest time. Depending on the situation, social media use can lead to new hobbies, business ideas, and knowledge in general.
  • Ask Questions and Learn – Social media and the internet in general is a great way for seniors to ask questions and get the answers they are looking for, without being intimidated by having to talk to a “real” person and ask questions.

With the changing face of senior housing and nursing homes in general, it is important to recognize that our older adults are not as inept and disinterested when it comes to technology as we used to think. We are seeing SNFs across the country shift their focus and integrate technology on various levels, which is indicative of how our seniors are living and what is making them happy. If social media is something that can keep seniors healthy, informed, and free of chronic illnesses such as depression, why not embrace it? To learn more about technology and social media in our nursing homes, please do not hesitate to contact Shep Roylance of The JCH Senior Housing Group.