Population Health Insights

Falls Awareness Campaigns take the first step to fall prevention

A powerful new communication campaign from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) hopes to increase public awareness about the dangers of falls for the elderly. Timed to coincide with the first day of the Fall season, September 22, 2012, Falls Prevention Awareness Day and Falls Prevention Awareness Week seek to raise awareness among older adults, eldercare professionals, and the general public about the seriousness of falls, and ways to reduce risk. The nation-wide campaign includes prevention clinics, workshops, health fairs, and other resources, as well as fact sheets, flyers, press release templates, and other tips on how to reach the community with more information.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year one in three “community-dwelling” persons1 over the age of 65 will experience a fall. The New York State Department of Health reports that falls among adults 65 and older are the leading cause of injury deaths, hospitalizations and emergency department visits2. All too often, a fall leads to a downward spiral that includes significant declines in mobility and independence.

Recognizing that a fall is not an accident, but a predictable and preventable event, Falls Prevention Awareness Day offers tips on how to prevent falls around the home (where 60% of falls occur) through individual training, removing hazards, and implementing simple safety measures. During Falls Prevention Awareness Week, the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence is working with a coalition of fall prevention organizations, including The Archstone Foundation and Home Safety Council, health care providers, and senior service agencies to help them broadcast their fall prevention safety message. Their website, www.stopfalls.org/FPweek/coalitions.shtml, provides a wealth of resources designed to reduce the risk of falls for elders.

To help get the word out to the local community about Fall Prevention Day, the NCOA website offers a list of fall prevention activities and resources, including:

Fall Prevention Brochures
What You Can Do To Prevent Falls

Home Falls Prevention Checklist

Falls Fact Sheet

Media Outreach
Sample Press Releases
Sample “Letter to the Editor” Announcing Falls Prevention Month

Legislative Outreach
Briefing Materials

Falls Prevention Awareness Day Proclamation

With all the activity surrounding Falls Prevention Day and Falls Prevention Awareness Week, it’s important to remember that preventing falls is important year-round. By putting in place a few simple precautions, and making basic changes to the home environment, seniors can enjoy life, fall-free.

1 Hausdorff JM, Rios DA, Edelber HK. Gait variability and fall risk in community–living older adults: a 1–year prospective study. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2001;82(8):1050–6.

2 Sources: New York City Bureau of Vital Statistics 2008-2010; New York State Department of Health Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System, 2007-2009