CONGRESS APPROVES ELDER FALLS BILL INTRODUCED BY HALL
Last evening the House approved legislation introduced by Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) that will help reduce and prevent falls among older adults. House passage of S. 845, the Safety of Seniors Act, follows passage by the Senate, and the legislation now goes to the President for consideration.
Hall and Pallone are original sponsors of H.R. 3701, "Keeping Seniors Safe from Falls Act of 2007," the companion bill to S. 845. The Energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 3701 in March, and the House agreed to accept the Senate language to move the bill forward. Sponsors of the Senate bill are Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).
"This legislation will develop effective strategies to raise awareness about elder falls, encourage research, and support demonstration projects to help prevent falls among senior citizens," Hall said. "Elder falls are one of the leading risks for Americans 65 years old and above."
A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that 5.8 million adults aged 65 and older fell at least once in 2006, and for 1.8 million of these, the resulting injury required a doctor visit or restricted activity. Prior research suggests that about one-third of older adults fall each year, and the risk markedly increases with advancing age. In 2005, nearly 16,000 fatal falls were reported among older adults. According to CDC, more than $19 billion is spent annually on treating the elderly for the adverse effects of falls.
The bill directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop public education campaigns to reduce falls among older adults, intensify services and conduct research, and evaluate the most effective strategies for reducing falls and their costs. The Secretary would oversee and support demonstration and research projects, and grants for local and state education campaigns would help achieve these goals.
The legislation was endorsed by the Falls Free Coalition Advocacy Work Group, led by the National Council on Aging, the National Safety Council, the Home Safety Council, AARP, the American Occupational Therapy Association, and the American Physical Therapy Association. "The Coalition members thank Senators Enzi and Mikulski and Representatives Pallone and Hall for their exemplary leadership and efforts to keep thousands of older Americans safe from falls-related injuries," stated William O'Connell, executive director of government affairs at the National Safety Council.