HPDP researcher leads national falls prevention initiative

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September 22 is the first day of Fall, and it’s also a day when passionate people across the country will stand together to observe the 5th annual National Falls Prevention Awareness Day.


This year’s theme, Standing Together to Prevent Falls, seeks to unite professionals, older adults, caregivers, and family members to play a part in raising awareness and preventing falls in the older adult population. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related emergency department visits for older adults, the major cause of hip fractures, and are responsible for over half of fatal head injuries.  In September, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan resolution recognizing Falls Prevention Awareness Day in an effort to help address this growing public health issue.

Ellen Schneider recently joined the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention as a research scientist and principal investigator for several projects to promote healthy aging. Through her work with the National Council on Aging, Schneider co-leads the National Falls Free© Initiative that sponsors Falls Prevention Awareness Day.

North Carolina is joining 45 other states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia to expand on Falls Prevention Awareness day a full week to spread the word on how to prevent falls among older adults. Ideas and resources for observing Falls Prevention Awareness Week in NC September 17-22 are available here: https://sites.google.com/site/ncfallsprevention/nc-falls-prevention-awareness-week.

“We have communities all over the state conducting various events and falls risk assessments as part of Falls Prevention Awareness Week in North Carolina,” said Schneider. “As one example, Eastern NC will be holding a Falls Prevention Screening and Education Fair on September 25th at the Greenville Convention Center where they will assess approximately 250 older adults for various falls risks such as issues with gait and balance, feet and medications.  It’s a very impressive event, and just one of many in the state and across the nation!”

 

Schneider also facilitated and presented on a national webinar, “Standing Together to Prevent Falls,” on August 28th that drew over 900 participants from across the country.  The National Council on Aging sponsored the webinar, which featured recent falls data, ideas for observing Falls Prevention Awareness Day, the new CDC’s new “STEADI” tool for falls risk assessment, and funding options for falls through Medicare and Title IIID. Other presenters included Heidi Ehrenreich from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Suzanne Landis of the Mountain Area Health Education Center. The webinar is archived and available here.

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