State Officials Urge Older Adults to Take Steps to Prevent Dangerous Falls

September 22 is National Falls Prevention Awareness Day

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 21, 2012) – In recognition National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, September 22, 2012, the State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., and Acting Director of the State Office for the Aging Greg Olsen encourage all New Yorkers to learn how to prevent falls, especially among older adults who are at greater risk of falling and are more likely to suffer more severe impacts when they fall.

"Falls can result in serious health consequences that may affect a person's mobility, independence and mental health," Commissioner Shah said. "Taking simple steps to prevent falls can minimize the risk of falling and help to ensure that older adults are able to maintain their independence and quality of life."

Acting Director Olsen said, "A major focus of our mission is to help older New Yorkers to live as independently as possible for as long as possible. Being that falls are such a detriment to that independence, many of our county Offices for the Aging across the state offer or can link to fall prevention and low-impact exercise classes to help individuals minimize the possibility of a fall and learn ways to avoid injuries should they fall. Improving one's balance through exercise and taking a few simple precautions can greatly reduce the risk of falling and injury."

The most common injuries from falls are bone fractures, lacerations, or traumatic brain injuries. Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths, hospitalizations and emergency department visits among adults aged 65 and older. On average, 900 New Yorkers aged 65 years and older die each year from injuries sustained from falls; in addition, more than 132,000 suffering falls require hospital treatment. Of those hospitalized, more than 25 percent suffer a hip fracture and 12 percent suffer a traumatic brain injury. Approximately 60 percent of the hospitalized patients are discharged to a nursing home or rehabilitation center, incurring additional costs to treat these injuries.

Studies have found that a combination of interventions can significantly reduce falls in the older adult population. Experts recommend:

  • a physical activity regimen that includes balance, strength training, and flexibility components;
  • consulting with a health professional about getting a fall risk assessment;
  • having medications reviewed periodically;
  • having vision checked annually; and
  • making sure the home environment is safe and supportive.

Although fall injury rates increase with age, everyone should assess potential falls risks at home and work, and take steps to eliminate these risks. In addition, parents of young children should ensure their child has adult supervision at home and during outdoor recreation; utilize baby gates on stairs; limit their child to age-appropriate recreation activities, and have their child wear a helmet or other recommended safety equipment when participating in sports or recreational activities.

For more information on fall prevention visit the Department of Health web site at: To locate fall prevention programs in your area, contact your local Office for the Aging, which can be found at: