HPDP Research Fellow gives keynote address at New Mexico Conference on Aging

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On August 24th, Ellen Schneider, a Research Fellow at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, gave a keynote address for the 38th annual meeting of the New Mexico Conference on Aging. The Conference has been organized since 1978 as a way for adults, caregivers and professionals to learn more about aging while encouraging a fun environment.

Schneider is known for her work with the National Falls Free Initiative, as well as facilitating the National Falls Prevention Awareness and Advocacy Committee. She also co-founded the North Carolina Falls Prevention Coalition, which worked to create the North Carolina Falls Prevention Awareness Week. This week, which will be from September 19th to 24th this year, was proclaimed into observance by Governor Pat McCrory in 2015.


“As part of my role with the National Council on Aging’s National Falls Prevention Resource Center, I am working to spread the word across the country about how to reduce falls risks and help people live as safely and independently for as long as possible.”


Schneider’s keynote topic was “Successful Strategies to Reduce Older Adult Fall Risks.” She spoke on the U.S. Administration for Community Living, which has recently awarded grants to organizations focused on evidence-based programs for older adults and adults with disabilities. She also discussed the growing magnitude and impact of older adults falls; proven interventions to prevent falls; and tools for screening, assessing and referring older adults to appropriate resources.

The session not only stressed national efforts to address this public health issue, but also touched on successful fall prevention strategies being implemented by some afore-mentioned organizations. Approximately 2,000 people attended the presentation.

“Falls are the leading cause of injuries and injury deaths for people 65 and older,” Schneider said in her speech. “The good news is that most falls are preventable by taking simple steps such as exercising to increase strength and balance, reviewing medications with a health care provider, maximizing vision and hearing, and addressing potential falls hazard at home.”

The statistics on fall-related injuries are numerous and surprising. In 2011, falling was the confirmed cause of 883 deaths and roughly 25,000 hospitalizations, in just the state of North Carolina. In the entire United States, around 2.5 million older adults are treated in emergency departments due to fall injuries; and of these 2.5 million, over 700,000 are hospitalized. One of the most thought-provoking statistics can be found in a study done by the CDC, which researched into the unintentional fall death rates per 100,000 people, over age 65, in the United states from 2004-2013. This report found that the death rate increased by almost 20 percent, over this nine-year span.


For more information on the North Carolina Falls Prevention Coalition, go to:

https://sites.google.com/site/ncfallsprevention/home

You can also find more information on Ellen Schneider at:

http://hpdp.unc.edu/research/research-fellows-program/hpdp-research-fellows/ellen-caylor-schneider/

 

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