While September 23 marked the first official day of fall for 2010 – it’s still the season to bring more awareness to falls prevention which is the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that more than 18,000 seniors die every year from a fall-related incident. In addition, they reported in 2008 that more than 2.1 million seniors age 65+ were treated in emergency rooms across the country with a non-fatal fall injury with more than 550,000 of those cases resulting in hospitalizations.

The reality is that falls are NOT an inevitable result of aging according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA) which is leading a national coalition effort around falls education and prevention.

"When an older adult falls, it can begin a cascade of events affecting quality of life, including a loss of independence, reduced mobility, and even earlier admission to a nursing home," said Lynn Beattie, vice president of Injury Prevention with NCOA, which leads the National Falls Free™ Initiative. "An injurious fall can also affect caregivers, family members, and even entire communities. But the good news is that falls are largely preventable."

For caregivers, a senior loved one's loss of mobility can mean not only increased hours for caregiving but also increased stress and anxiety over their loved one's future independence and safety.

To help assess a senior's fall risk potential and find out ways to help improve balance, flexibility and strength, senior centers and other community-based organizations serving older adults across the U.S. are offering programs like A Matter of Balance and Stepping On, along with Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance classes.

Start something new this fall by preventing future falls for your older loved ones

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