Friday, September 21, 2012

Falls Prevention Day on First Day of Fall

Sept. 22 is the first day of Fall, and it’s also a day when passionate people across the country will stand together to observe the 5th annual National Falls Prevention Awareness Day. This year’s theme, Standing Together to Prevent Falls, seeks to unite professionals, older adults, caregivers, and family members to play a part in raising awareness and preventing falls in the older adult population.
View or Download Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's proclamation on National Falls Prevention Awareness Day.
Forty-six states will participate in Falls Prevention Awareness Day this year, joining over 70 national organizations, professional associations, and federal agencies that comprise the Falls Free© Initiative to raise awareness through educational presentations, risk-screening activities, and other outreach strategies. They are standing together to bring attention to common-sense, effective strategies to help older adults reduce the risk of falling, such as: 
  • Engaging in a physical activity regimen that includes balance, strength training, and flexibility.
  • Consulting with a health professional about getting a falls risk assessment.
  • Having their medications reviewed periodically.
  • Getting their eyes checked annually.
  • Making sure the home and community environments are safe and supportive. 
Every 15 seconds, an older adult is seen in an Emergency Department for a fall-related injury. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for those aged 65 and over. Moreover, the chances of falling and of being seriously injured in a fall increase with age. 
In 2012, 10,000 baby boomers began turning 65 every day. In 2010, the Census Bureau estimated there were over 2 million people over the age of 90, and that number is growing. Based on these demographic changes, we can expect that the number of falls, and fall-related injuries and deaths, will increase exponentially unless we make a serious commitment to providing evidence-based interventions to those increasingly at risk.  
Currently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is budgeted only $2 million per year to prevent falls among older adults – a problem that costs more than $28 billion in direct medical costs from fatal and nonfatal injuries each year. For people age 72 and older, the average health care cost of a fall injury totaled $19,440 in 2010.
“This day of awareness brings attention to a growing public health issue among older adults, but more importantly, the growing availability of proven falls prevention programs and interventions,” said Lynn Beattie, vice president of Injury Prevention with the National Council on Aging (NCOA), and leader of the Falls Free© Initiative. “We need to create a national prevention dialogue and welcome everyone to stand together to promote older adult safety and independence.”  
Since 2005, members of the Falls Free© Initiative have been working collaboratively to increase the availability of proven programs to help seniors prevent falls and to promote integration and partnership to reach those at risk.  

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