Federal lawmakers should consider changes to Medicare and turn to nursing facilities for expertise when addressing the growing incidence of fall-related injuries in seniors, according to LeadingAge.

The cost of falls among older adults to Medicare alone total $31 billion annually. In a June letter, the advocacy group urged members of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging to use the expertise and experience of its members, specifically SNFs, to inform comprehensive, evidence-based fall prevention policies.

For example, the detailed falls risk assessments used to evaluate new residents in nursing facilities are a potential template for adding a risk assessment to Medicare’s Annual Wellness Visits, proposed Ruth Katz, LeadingAge senior VP-policy. The committee should also consider adding vision care to Medicare coverage, Katz advised. Vision checks are a key component of SNF falls prevention protocol.

“Nursing homes, in particular, are rated on falls prevention, and many of the techniques our SNF members have developed to keep residents from falling can be adopted in other settings,” Barbara Gay, the group’s VP-public policy communications, told McKnight’s

LeadingAge developed its recommendations in consultation with its members, home care advocacy group ElevatingHOME, and the Visiting Nurse Associations of America. They were submitted earlier this year in response to a general request for comments from the committee.

LeadingAge shared the comments again in advance of U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing scheduled for today, at which falls prevention will be the topic.