May 2008 was Older Americans Month – an ideal time to focus attention on the issues that affect older adults. This year’s theme was “Working Together for Strong, Healthy, and Supportive Communities.” Individuals and communities can come together to help older adults enjoy an improved quality of life with a reduced risk of injury.
Every year, one in three adults age 65 and older falls. Twenty to 30% of those who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries that can threaten their ability to live healthy, independent lives. Learn what you can do to reduce your- or a loved one’s- risk of experiencing a fall and the injuries that can result. The following tips can help prevent falls:
- Exercise regularly
- Have a medication check-up
- Have your vision checked
- Make home safety improvements
To address the important public health issue of older adult falls, the Injury Center and the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention have been working to conduct research to better understand the problem and to identify effective strategies for prevention.
For example, CDC has ongoing partnerships with the Administration on Aging (AoA) and with the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Through an Inter-Agency Agreement, the Injury Center is working with AoA on two projects to evaluate fall prevention programs. One project will evaluate the long-term impact of the Matter of Balance program to determine if and how participants are continuing to benefit from the information and activities learned in the program. The second project will compute the average implementation costs of three AoA-funded fall prevention programs. These data will allow us to conduct future cost-benefit analyses that can include health care utilization, caregiver costs, and quality of life measures.
One recent CDC fall-related publication that I’d like to share with you is a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report entitled “Self-Reported Falls and Fall-Related Injuries Among Persons Aged >65 Years–United States, 2006.” This article provides the first national estimates of older adult fall injuries that includes injuries where medical treatment was sought or that resulted in restricted activity. Researchers found that, in 2006, approximately 1.8 million persons aged >65 years (one-in-seven) sustained some type of fall-related injury in the previous three months.
These are just a few of the activities we have been engaging in to prevent older adult falls. Visit our website to learn more about the Injury Center’s fall prevention research and activities. We’d like to hear from you about your organization’s fall prevention work and how you are working together to help older adults enjoy a more active, independent life during Older Americans Month and beyond.