WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., ranking member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, held a hearing entitled, “Falls Prevention: National, State, and Local Solutions to Better Support Seniors.”
During the hearing, Casey released the Aging Committee’s 2019 annual report that details key findings and recommendations of a year-long examination of the health and economic impact of falls and strategies to prevent falls and reduce falls-related injuries.
“We must dispel our loved ones of the stigma associated with falling so that they can get the help they need to age in place — where they want to be — in their homes and communities,” said Casey. “I am hopeful that our work over the past year will propel the research community to do more, get more dollars invested into supporting home modifications and encourage more older adults to be active.”
Falls are the leading cause of death due to an unintentional injury for adults aged 65 and older in the U.S. In 2014, approximately 29 percent of older adults reported at least one fall, and three million older adults were treated for fall-related injuries in the emergency department. As adults age, poor balance, certain medications and even vision problems can increase an individual’s risk of falling.
The Aging Committee’s bipartisan report includes recommendations in four key areas, including one of Casey’s top priorities in the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, the importance of increasing the development and dissemination of evidence-based programs designed to help seniors age in their homes and communities.
Virginia Demby from Chester, Pa., testified before the committee at the invitation of Casey. An 84 year-old retired nurse who is living with low vision, Demby is an advocate for older adults and testified to the importance of how exercise classes, adapted for various abilities, can help seniors to prevent falls.
“I applaud the committee for releasing [the report] and I fully support [its] recommendations. I can only do so much in the community to encourage people to stay fit and active. This is the reason that I support a national education campaign so more adults can access these classes. Funding to implement existing programs and ensuring continued development of evidence based programs is crucial,” said Demby.