Contact: Sherri King (517) 373-4064
Agency: Community Health

September 22, 2010

Michigan joins 33 other states and the National Falls Free™ Coalition in declaring a statewide Falls Prevention Awareness Day on the first day of fall, September 23rd. The National Falls Free™ Coalition is also petitioning Congress to once again proclaim September 23rd as National Falls Prevention Awareness Day.

In 2008, over 115,000 Michiganders aged 75 and older reported falling in the previous three months with one-quarter of those falling reporting that the fall caused an injury.

"In 2008, falls resulted in 538 deaths and 12,272 hospitalizations to this group," said Janet Olszewski, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. "But the good news is that through identification and reduction in fall risk factors, falls are preventable. Therefore, we need to raise awareness of preventive measures that can keep older adults safe in Michigan."

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries for Americans 65 and older. More than 18,000 older Americans die every year because of a fall, and the rate has risen dramatically over the last 10 years.

"When older adults fall, it often leads to a loss of independence, reduced mobility, and earlier admission to a nursing home," said Lynn Beattie, Vice President of Injury Prevention with the National Council on Aging and Director of the National Falls Free™ Coalition.

Studies show that a combination of interventions can significantly reduce falls in the older adult population. Experts recommend a physical activity regimen with balance, strength training, and flexibility components; consulting with a health professional about getting a fall risk assessment; having medications reviewed periodically; getting eyes checked annually; and making sure the home environment is safe and supportive.

At senior centers across the United States, programs like Matter of Balance and Tai Chi help older adults gain strength, improve balance, and increase confidence to help them live healthier lives and preserve their independence.

For free information on fall prevention including information on the Matter of Balance program in Michigan, older adults should contact their local area agency on aging. Scheduled activities for September 23 include:

Preventing Falls through Better Balance Priority Health (10 - 11:30 am) 3111 Leonard NE Grand Rapids 616-233-0283

Matter of Balance Kick-Off (10 - 11 am) St. Patrick Senior Center 58 Parsons Detroit 313-446-4444 ext. 5227

Matter of Balance Kick-Off (12:30-1:30 pm) St. John Riverview Senior Wellness Center 7633 E. Jefferson Detroit 313-446-4444 ext. 5227

Presentation on Fall Prevention 12 Noon Ionia County Commission on Aging 115 Hudson Street Ionia 616-527-5365

Older adults in Mason County can contact the Ludington Senior Center (231-845-6841) for more information on events. In Mecosta County, contact Mecosta County Commission on Aging at 231-972-2884. Residents in Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties can contact Karen Jackson at 800-852-7795 for information about the fall prevention assessment which will be offered to Home-Delivered Meals recipients.

The Michigan Department of Community Health is part of the National Falls Free™ Coalition, which includes 34 states and 70 national organizations, professional associations and federal agencies across the country dedicated to reducing fall-related injury and death among older adults.

In Michigan, Fall Prevention Awareness Day is a collaborative effort between the Michigan Department of Community Health, Office of Services to the Aging, the Michigan Traumatic Brain Injury Services and Provider Council and the Brain Injury Association of Michigan. For more information on fall prevention, please visit: www.michigan.gov/injurypreventionwww.michigan.gov/tbi, and www.biami.org.