“Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall”

Submitted By

Michelle Butterfield
Southeastern Idaho Public Health, Idaho
December 19, 2014

The 3rd Annual "Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall," a falls prevention conference for older adults, was held on October 17, 2014. The conference was hosted by the Idaho State University Physical Therapy Program and the Falls Prevention Program at Southeastern Idaho Public Health. Attendees learned about falls, their fall risk, how to prevent falls, and how to "fall-proof" their home. Captain Ryan O'Hearn with Pocatello Fire Department delivered a presentation on falls prevention and reported on the number of 911 calls they receive for falls and how they are helping those individuals to prevent another fall from happening.

According to the CDC, 1/3 of adults over age 65 falls each year and Idaho Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responded to more than 6,700 fall-related calls in 2012. Falls is a public health issue and the Humpty Dumpty Falls Prevention Conference was developed as one strategy to address this. Targeting the adults age 65 and older is the goal because statistically this is the age where most falls begin to occur and will reoccur if not addressed.

The Humpty Dumpty conference was developed to address falls in older adults. The goals of the Humpty Dumpty conference are to teach adults age 65 and older about falls, how to assess their fall risk, and learn strategies to prevent falls. The Falls Prevention Program at Southeastern Idaho Public Health, Idaho State University (ISU) Physical Therapy Program, and Pocatello Fire Department joined together to provide information to attendees at the Humpty Dumpty conference. Several other ISU health professions were present offering falls prevention education to older adults. For example, Occupational Therapy students demonstrated and helped participants practice how to get up from a fall; Dietetic students provided education about the importance of hydration and how being dehydrated can contribute to a fall; and Nursing students provided information about medications and how they may contribute to an increased risk for falls. The Humpty Dumpty conference was held at Idaho Central Credit Union Administrative Offices in Pocatello. Part of the Falls Prevention Program at SIPH is the Fit and Fall Proof (TM), which began in 2004. During this time, the program has addressed falls prevention by offering Fit and Fall Proof (TM) exercise classes, trainings for class leaders, conferences and various educational resources. The Humpty Dumpty conference was first implemented in 2012, and it will continue in the years to come because of the tremendous success it has on attendees and as we work towards preventing falls.

An example of a successful outcome was watching a lady, who has experienced falls recently, interact at the Occupational Therapy booth. As she was being assisted getting back up off the floor from a “mock” fall, she said to the students, “Thanks so much. I have never felt confident enough to get back up that way and I always fall back down. I am so happy you showed me and helped me learn a new way of getting back on my feet.” As I walked around the conference room while attendees visited the various educational booths, I heard the following comments, “I wish my sister would have come to this to learn about falls because she falls a lot...” and “my husband will be glad to see all the stuff I have to bring home and teach him.”

A lesson learned from this project is that some older adults do not report they have experienced a fall because they do not want to lose their independence. How can we overcome this? By educating about falls, how you can assess your risk of falling, and have them practice falls prevention. The goal is to build confidence so they do not experience a fall and if they do, they feel comfortable telling someone so they can be taught how to prevent another one from happening.

SHORT TERM GOALS: Follow-up with attendees to see if they went home and did the “fall-proof” home checklist that was handed out. Use the attendance sign-in sheet to do this.

INTERMEDIATE GOALS: Continue working with Pocatello Fire Department by putting falls prevention educational kits in the ambulances for distribution to the “falls calls.” Determine the guest speaker for Humpty Dumpty 2015. Seek other partnerships to make the conference even better.

LONG TERM GOALS: Increase the attendee number at Humpty Dumpty each year.

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