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How did you celebrate Older American’s Month?

Categories: Home & Recreational Safety

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.

Public Comments

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this blog is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

  1. June 18, 2008 at 8:26 am ET  -   John C. Higgins-Biddle, Ph.D.

    Dear Dr. Arias,

    I was delighted to see your new blog and its attention to older Americans, of which I am one. I have worked with members of the Injury Center for 15 years on advancing alcohol screening and brief intervention in general medical settings. The progress made to date has been remarkable, but we have a long way to go. So I would like to encourage your greater attention to the issue not only for the Injury Center but for the entire CDC as well.

    One might begin with the fact that the report you cite on falls among older people fails even to mention alcohol use as one of leading causes of such falls. Indeed, alcohol is a leading factor in all aspects of the Injury Center’s work—general injury, unintentional injury, and violence—yet it has not found a place of real prominence across all those issues. Even worse, it does not even merit a mention among the CDC’s priority topics. See, for example, the website on Healthy Living where alcohol use is not even mentioned! When a search of the CDC website turns up 37,800 mentions of alcohol, it is clear that the subject must be of considerable importance to the CDC’s work. Why, then, is alcohol not an explicit priority issue amid the CDC’s mission, goals, and strategies?

    Having worked with many Federal agencies over the years, I know one factor in the CDC’s failure to give explicit priority to alcohol issues is the existence of other agencies whose missions focus more clearly on alcohol. But let’s look more closely at that excuse. NIAAA’s name and mission limits it to only two of the three major alcohol use disorders—abuse and alcoholism. SAMHSA has until quite recently followed the same course. But we all know that the most common alcohol use disorder is acute intoxication, which occurs among almost 25% of adult Americans at least once every year, compared to the mere 4% who are alcoholics. Clearly, addressing the excessive use of alcohol, with or without intoxication, is an appropriate role for CDC.

    With the discovery, successful research, and now dissemination of alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI) over the past 25 years, a mechanism is available for CDC to help. Your division has already set an admirable example in its work on SBI with emergency and trauma centers, and the fetal alcohol program has seen benefits from this approach. However, this strategy urgently needs attention across the full spectrum of CDC programs and activities to advance the dissemination of SBI into all aspects of health promotion and disease and injury prevention. Other Federal agencies (NHTSA, IHS, CMS, VA, and others) are already taking decisive action in this direction. CDC needs to catch up with this revolution on how America is reducing the burden of alcohol.

    If I can be of any assistance in helping you in this direction, I would be delighted. Having retired from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine five years ago, I have time for consultation and volunteering. CDC has huge potential to make a difference in this cause. I hope you will make it your priority.

    Cheers,

    John

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