PRESS RELEASE                                                               September 22, 2009
Ashley Glacel (Kohl), 202-224-5364                           
Michael Mahaffey (Enzi) 202-224-6770
Rachel MacKnight (Mikulski) 202-228-1122
Larry Smar (Casey) 202-228-6367
Washington, D.C. - Today U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, was joined by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), chairman of the HELP Subcommittee on Retirement and Aging, Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in announcing the passage of S. Res 276 to designate September 22, 2009, the first day of fall, as "National Falls Prevention Awareness Day." A similar provision was passed in the 110 th Congress.
"Directing resources to prevention programs, including the prevention of falls, is an investment that pays off in the long-run by saving billions of dollars that would otherwise be spent on treatment," said Senator Kohl. "I support prevention programs because they help to alleviate the rise in health care expenditures, and I am proud to have steered stimulus funding toward the Administration on Aging's evidence-based disease prevention and wellness programs, including their fall prevention programs."
"Falls don't discriminate. This is a serious public health problem that affects everyone," said Senator Mikulski. "That's why I fought so hard to pass legislation to make elder falls prevention a priority. I will continue to champion efforts to promote public education campaigns and research that will help prevent elder falls and save lives."
"For many of our nation's seniors, a fall means serious injury and often leads to a rapid decline in health.  Bringing awareness to this issue will help prevent falls and save lives through education and early intervention.  By reducing the occurrences and costs of falls, we can help secure the health and safety of America's seniors," said Senator Enzi.
"Too many Americans each year are seriously injured in falls," said Senator Casey. "Raising awareness about prevention programs will reduce medical treatment costs and help prevent the tragic consequences of falls on families across the country."
Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for those 65 and older, and have a substantial impact on the lives of Americans, their families and communities, and society.  Each year, one in three older adults will experience a fall, the consequences of which can be extensive and wide-ranging.  The most recent data show that in 2007, 1.9 million older adults were treated in emergency departments for injuries from falls, and 492,000 were hospitalized.
The Center for Disease Control estimates that over $19.2 billion is spent every year on treating the elderly for the adverse effects of falls, including $12 billion for hospitalization, $4 billion for emergency department visits, and $3 billion for outpatient care.  Most of these expenses are paid for by the federal government through Medicare reimbursements.  According to the National Council on Aging, it is projected that direct treatment costs will more than double to $43.8 billion annually by 2020.  These estimates do not include other ancillary costs, such as caregiver time, reduced functional capacity, and decreased quality of life.
A number of evidence-based interventions have been designed and tested to reduce the risk of falling. Approaches include comprehensive clinical assessments, exercise programs to improve balance and strength, management of medications, correction of vision, and reduction of home hazards.
In the 110 th Congress, Senators Mikulski and Enzi were successful in passing the Safety of Seniors Act of 2007, which authorized new programs to help prevent falls among older adults through public education, research and demonstration projects. Senator Kohl was a cosponsor of the legislation.
The resolution voices support for organizations working to both promote awareness about falls prevention and implement programs to help reduce falls among older Americans, including the National Falls Free Coalition and the Falls Free Coalition Advocacy Work Group, which includes the Home Safety Council, the National Council on Aging, the National Safety Council, the State and Territorial Injury Prevention Directors Association, the American Occupational Therapy Association, the American Physical Therapy Association, and among other organizations.
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