The statistics about seniors and falling are sobering. One in four older adults fall each year in the U.S., but half do not seek medical care. Still, every 11 seconds another senior arrives at an emergency room for treatment of injuries sustained in a fall. Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall. Injuries from falls cost $34 billion in 2013, and the costs could nearly double by 2020. In addition to the injury and potential loss of life, a fall can result in drastic changes in the quality of life for a senior, including loss of the ability to live independently.

As a result, a lot of attention is being given to the problems of preventing falls for the elderly, and for assessing their risk of fall. A competition by OpenIDEO seeks ideas to address this problem. The competition is sponsored by AARP Services and UnitedHealthCare, and at the end of the process, two ideas will receive awards. The Most Viable solution will receive a $50K prize, and the Most Promising idea will receive a $15K cash prize as well as a $10K credit for IDEO design services. Both winners will also receive mentor support from AARP and access to a research study with a caregiving panel.

The deadline for initial ideas is April 19, 2017, which will be followed by rounds of feedback and refinement. Participants are encouraged to collaborate and share ideas throughout the process. In the end, the judges will be looking for solutions that focus on health and wellbeing, are affordable, integrate with other solutions, and can be scaled to serve large groups of people. The winners will be announced on June 7, 2017. With some luck, we may get an innovative approach that can make a dent in this large problem facing our older citizens.