National Focus on Falls in Advance of Falls Prevention Awareness Day

Sep 08, 2011, 13:08 ET from National Council on Aging

Consumer Product Safety Commission, and National Council on Aging working to raise awareness of safety issues; specifically around falls in bathroom

WASHINGTON, Sept. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and the National Council on Aging (NCOA) are working together to increase awareness of older adult falls in advance of National Falls Prevention Awareness Day on September 23, the first day of Fall.

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While falls can happen in any room of the house, a new report focuses on preventing falls in the bathroom, based on data from a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report, which can be found here, highlights the latest data, from 2008, on injuries in the bathroom, including:

  • Approximately 21.8 million people of all ages sustained nonfatal, unintentional injuries, resulting in $67.3 billion in lifetime medical costs;
  • Most bathroom injuries (81.1%) were caused by falls;
  • Injury rates overall as well as hospitalization rates increased with age;
  • Fracture rates also increased with age and were highest among people aged >85 years [197.4 fractures per 100,000 persons];
  • Among people aged > / = 85 years, more than one-third of bathroom injuries occurred when getting on, off, or using the toilet.

The report offers proven solutions for falls prevention such as adding nonskid mats and grab bars in homes with older adults. "According to the Home Safety Council's 2004 The State of Home Safety in America report, 63% of U.S. homes used bathtub mats or nonskid strips to help reduce bathtub falls, but only 19% of homes had grab bars."

In addition, the federal government's newly released National Prevention Strategy provides individuals and families with the knowledge, skills, and tools to make safe choices that prevent disease, violence, and injuries.  The overarching goal of the Strategy is to increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life.

According to the Strategy, "each year, about a third of (U.S.) adults aged 65 years and older experience a fall, and 20 to 30 percent of them suffer a moderate to severe injury (e.g., hip fracture, head trauma)."

The Strategy, found here, lists numerous falls prevention techniques, including:

  • Engage in a physical activity regimen that includes balance, strength training, and flexibility components;
  • Consult with a health professional about getting a falls risk assessment;
  • Have medications reviewed periodically for side effects or harmful interactions;
  • Get eyes checked annually;
  • Make sure the home environment is safe and supportive.

The CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control also offers two brochures for reducing risk of falling and for assessing home safety.

"Falls have long been one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries and deaths in and around the home," said U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Inez Tenenbaum.  "CPSC urges older adults, their families, and caregivers to help protect older consumers by ensuring that bathrooms have grab bars, that walking surfaces are slip resistant and free of tripping hazards, and that homes are well lit both inside and outside."  

"With the support of our federal partners, as well as those in the 43 states around the country that comprise the Falls Free© Initiative, NCOA will continue to work to educate families and caregivers about this largely preventable epidemic," said Lynn Beattie, vice president of Injury Prevention with the National Council on Aging, leader of the Falls Free© Initiative.

For additional information on the Falls Free© Initiative and Falls Prevention Awareness Day, including press-related materials, please click here.

About the Falls Free© Initiative
Led by the National Council on Aging, the Falls Free© Initiative includes more than 40 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's mission is to improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. NCOA is a national voice for older Americans 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.

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SOURCE National Council on Aging



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