Weak elderly woman with walking stick waiting for help after breathlessness attack .Elderly woman fell on the floor.

A new program at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles is trying to catch at-risk seniors from falling and potentially breaking bones or sustaining other life-threatening injuries.

The bone health and falls risk consultation program is available to anyone over age 65. Seniors receive bone density scans and are scored on their risk of sustaining major fractures from falls within 10 years. If necessary, a physician can prescribe medication to help mitigate the risk of bone density loss. Geriatricians also consider a patient’s fall history, any medications with side effects that could lead to a fall, other health issues that could cause a fall and if their gait or balance is compromised.

“Falling and breaking a bone can be catastrophic for an older adult. It can lead to a rapid decline in their health or even early death,” Sonja Rosen, M.D., chief of Geriatric Medicine at Cedars-Sinai and a professor of Medicine said in a statement. “To help prevent falls, we need to diagnose decreased bone density and osteoporosis and determine whether older adults are at risk for falling.”

Falls are the leading cause of injury death for people over the age of 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Falls result in approximately 3 million emergency room visits annually and cost Medicare and Medicaid about $50 billion each year. 

As the number of older adults grows in the U.S., more people are at risk of falling and sustaining life-threatening breaks due to osteoporosis. More than half of adults over age 50 have osteoporosis and low bone mass, according to a study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research

The problem is especially acute for seniors aging in place. Many homes lack grab bars and other modifications to prevent seniors from falling. The Home Renewed Coalition is lobbying Congress for policies that would allow seniors to use pre-tax retirement accounts to make aging-in-place modifications.

This article originally appeared on McKnights Home Care