CHICAGO and TAMPA, Fla., Sept. 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Every 13 seconds, an adult over the age of 64 is treated in an emergency room for a fall-related injury, often leading to loss of health and independence for seniors.
In addition to their physical and emotional impact, falls are costly. In 2013, the total cost of fall injuries was $34 billion, and 78 percent of that expense was paid for by Medicare. According to the National Council on Aging, the expense may nearly double by 2020.
Participation in programs designed to reduce the fear of falling, enhance skills and strategies to reduce fall risk, and facilitate exercises to increase strength and balance have been shown to reduce a senior's risk of falling and related health care costs. To increase access to these programs for seniors in Cook and surrounding counties, Harmony Health Plan Inc., a subsidiary of WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE: WCG), provided a $25,000 grant in 2015 to White Crane Wellness Center, a nonprofit organization in Chicago that offers health and wellness services to older adults. The grant enabled the organization to expand its efforts to reduce falls and fall-related injuries by offering evidence-based, falls prevention programming for hundreds of seniors.
Today, in recognition of National Falls Prevention Month, Harmony, White Crane Wellness Center, and the Illinois Fall Prevention Coalition announce the release of the "Illinois Fall Prevention Coalition Directory." The directory contains more than 100 fall prevention programs and resources designed to help seniors prevent falls through muscle strength and balance exercises, and education about environmental risks.
Dr. Robin L. Jones, Harmony's medical director, shared these key fall prevention tips for seniors:
- Attend balance and exercise programs that build strength and flexibility.
- Do a fall assessment with your doctor.
- Regularly review medications with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure there are no side-effects that could cause a fall.
- Regularly check your vision and hearing, and replace glasses as necessary.
- Keep your home safe by removing tripping hazards and increasing lighting.
- Talk to your family members about ways they can help keep you safe.
"It is unfortunate that some seniors' fear of falling causes them to limit their activities. This can actually have a negative impact on health by causing depression, further physical decline, and increase feelings of isolation," said Dr. Jones. "The programs offered through the grant are now promoted through the resource guide, which will help to better connect Cook County seniors to the care and services they need to reduce their risk of falling."
"Although the terms 'falling' and 'falls' may not always conjure the concept of life-threatening consequences or death for seniors, falling can be just that for the frail," said Elizabeth Cagen, executive director at White Crane Wellness Center. "Through the generosity and vision of WellCare, White Crane and other health care and community partners were able to collaborate on programs and resources to reduce the incidence of falls among seniors in Illinois. This collaborative and innovative initiative will have far-reaching positive outcomes in reducing falls and promoting health."
For more information about White Crane's fall prevention programs, call (773) 271-9001.
As of June 30, 2016, WellCare and Harmony Health Plan serve approximately 211,000 members in Illinois, including 168,000 Medicaid members, 15,000 Medicare Advantage plan members and 28,000 Medicare Prescription Drug Plan members.
About WellCare Health Plans, Inc.
Headquartered in Tampa, Fla., WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE: WCG) focuses exclusively on providing government-sponsored managed care services, primarily through Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, to families, children, seniors and individuals with complex medical needs. WellCare serves approximately 3.8 million members nationwide as of June 30, 2016. For more information about WellCare, please visit the company's website at www.wellcare.com or view the company's videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/WellCareHealthPlan.
About White Crane Wellness Center
White Crane Wellness Center is an independent, non-profit organization whose objectives are to empower older adults to improve and sustain their health and to serve as an innovative model for a new approach to healthy aging. Our organization's goal is to equip older adults with the requisite tools, knowledge, and support necessary to remain healthy, active, and engaged in the community. We are dedicated to preventative medicine, positive approaches toward aging, holistic health, and empowering people to take an active role in their own health care.
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SOURCE WellCare Health Plans, Inc.