TRENTON – In an effort to reduce the number and effects of geriatric falls and to help cut down on the number of fall-related hospitalizations among the elderly, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee released legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Vitale that would establish a “Comprehensive Geriatric Fall Prevention Pilot Program” to be administered through the Department of Human Services. Such pilot programs have proven to be highly effective when adopted in other states.
“Geriatric falls, which are the leading cause of injury-related death and hospitalization among persons 65 years of age and older, constitute a growing health crisis in New Jersey. By implementing this pilot program, we will be taking a needed step toward helping to prevent these falls, and improving the overall quality of life for our seniors,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex), Chair of the Senate Health Committee.
The bill, S-1060, would set up a pilot that would provide intensive fall prevention programs for elderly Medicaid recipients most in need of such services, as determined by the Commissioner of Human Services. Under the pilot, at least 6,000 Medicaid recipients 60 years of age or older would be selected to serve as a control group to measure the comparative effects and progress of the program.
Approximately 85 percent of fall-related hospitalizations and 77 percent of fall-related deaths occur among people who are 75 years of age or older. Nationwide, it is estimated that approximately 400,000 hip fractures occur each year, with 90 percent of those fractures occurring in patients older than 65.
The bill was advanced out of committee by a vote of 6-1.