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First Day of Fall, September 22, Focuses on Preventing Falls to Older Adults

WASHINGTON, DC (September 22, 2009) – The Home Safety Council, the only national nonprofit organization solely dedicated to preventing injuries that occur in and around the home, applauds today’s designation of National Falls Prevention Awareness Day.

Senate Resolution 276 was introduced by Chairman Herb Kohl of the Senate Select Committee on Aging and we would like to thank him for his leadership role and Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Michael Enzi (R-WY), Bernard Sanders (I-VT) and Patty Murray (D-WA) for cosponsoring the legislation.

The National Falls Prevention Awareness Day Resolution comes at a critical time when each year, one in three Americans age 65 and older falls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2007, 1.9 million fall-related injuries were treated in hospital emergency departments and about 492,000 of those treated were subsequently hospitalized.

“This resolution builds on the work that is being done by the public health community and advocacy organizations that have first-hand experience with the devastating impact a fall can have to a family member or friend,” said Patricia Adkins, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Public Policy for the Home Safety Council. “The good news is many of these falls can be prevented, they don’t have to happen.”

Evidenced-based programs show promise in reducing falls through clinical assessments, exercise programs, medications management, vision correction, and reduction of home hazards. Precautions that can be taken in the home are:

  • Have handrails on both sides of stairs and steps. Make sure handrails go from the top to the bottom of stairs.
  • Have lots of lights at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Tape small rugs to the floor or do not use them at all.
  • Have nightlights in the bedroom, hall and bathroom.
  • Have grab bars in the tub and shower.

In April 2008, the Safety of Seniors Act was enacted to develop public and professional education strategies aimed at raising awareness about older adult falls. It also encourages research to identify at-risk populations, and supports demonstration projects aimed at preventing falls among older Americans.

Based on CDC data, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths and hospital admissions for traumatic injuries among adults 65 and older; and in 2006, over 16,600 in this age category died from injuries related to falls. The total direct medical costs for falls are more than $19 billion each year and the adults 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of our population.

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