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With Two Million Older Adults Injured By Falls Every Year, 35 States Stand Up to Falls on Falls Prevention Awareness Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 16, 2010
Contact Ken Schwartz, (202) 600-3131

Washington DC – Across the country, state government, senior centers, and older adults will observe Falls Prevention Awareness Day on the first day of fall, September 23, 2010. Thirty five states will participate, joining the 70 national organizations, professional associations, and federal agencies that comprise the Falls Free™ Coalition to raise awareness of the dangers of fall-related injury and death among older adults.

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries for Americans 65 years of age and older. More than 18,000 older Americans die every year because of a fall, and the rate has risen dramatically over the last 10 years.  The U.S. spends an estimated $19 billion annually on medical care related to falls; in 2008 over 2.1 million older adults were treated in emergency departments for fall related injuries.

“When an older adult falls, it can begin a cascade of events affecting quality of life, including a loss of independence, reduced mobility, and even earlier admission to a nursing home,” said Lynn Beattie, vice president of Injury Prevention with the National Council on Aging, lead of the National Falls Free™ Initiative. “An injurious fall can also affect caregivers, family members and even entire communities. “But the good news is falls are largely preventable.”

Studies show that a combination of interventions can significantly reduce falls in the older adult population. Experts recommend a physical activity regimen with balance, strength training, and flexibility components; in the case of a history of falls or balance and gait difficulties, consulting with a health professional about getting a fall risk assessment; having medications reviewed periodically; getting eyes checked annually; and making sure the home environment is safe and supportive.

Senior centers and other community-based organizations serving older adults across the United States are offering programs like A Matter of Balance and Stepping On, along with Tai Chi classes, to help older adults gain the strength, improved balance, and confidence to help them live healthier lives and preserve their independence.

Some of the state-organized events planned for National Falls Prevention Awareness Day include:

  • Florida: Airing a 90-minute webcast on September 22, 2010 featuring health professionals talking about balance issues, exercise, and falls prevention techniques.
  • Missouri: Planning more than 30 events at local senior centers and in communities. Local aging leaders have also launched “Steady as You Go” falls prevention initiatives in 260 senior centers.
  • New Hampshire: Falls screenings for state legislators and others will be held in the state legislature building. Community-based activities and screenings are also planned.
  • New Mexico: Hosting Falls Prevention Awareness Day at the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque. Medical and Health Professions students will conduct free falls assessment screenings.
  • Texas: Will have five days of observation events, including a press conference on the steps of the state capital building, and screenings and demonstration in local communities.

To download video B-Roll, go to http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10357607/ver1_dv.mov and http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10357607/ver2_dv.mov. For additional information, go to http://www.ncoa.org/improving-health/falls-prevention/

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About The Falls Free™ Coalition
Led by the National Council on Aging, the Falls Free™ Coalition, includes 31 states and 70 national organizations, professional associations, and federal agencies who are working collaboratively to bring education, awareness, and evidence-based solutions to local communities. Falls Free™ seeks to provide hundreds of thousands of older Americans with the resources and education needed to reduce their risk of injury.

About NCOA
The National Council on Aging is a nonprofit service and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, DC. NCOA is a national voice for older Americans - especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged - and the community organizations that serve them. It brings together nonprofit organizations, businesses, and government to develop creative solutions that improve the lives of all older adults. NCOA works with thousands of organizations across the country to help seniors find jobs and benefits, improve their health, live independently, and remain active in their communities. For more information, visit www.NCOA.org.