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National Safety Council Applauds House Passage of Safety of Seniors Act
Date:4/8/2008

Legislation to Deal with Growing Problem of Falls Among Elderly Americans

Leading Cause of Injury Death for People 65 and Older

WASHINGTON, April 8, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With falls among people 65 and older now the leading cause of injury deaths, the United States House of Representatives today passed the "Safety of Seniors Act" (S. 845) to combat this growing and disturbing trend.

"We applaud the House and the leadership of Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Ralph Hall (R-TX) for the passage of Safety of Seniors Act," said the Leo Carey, vice president of Government Affairs for the National Safety Council. "This action is a strong signal that Congress not only recognizes that falls among older Americans are a growing public health concern but that Congress is committed to addressing this problem."

The Senate passed the Safety of Seniors Act last August. The bill, co-sponsored by Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), calls for a public education campaign, research, and demonstration projects to "expand and intensify programs with respect to research and related activities concerning elder falls."

The mortality rate from falls for older Americans has grown 39% between 1999 and 2005. Each year one in three Americans 65 and older falls and nearly 16,000 die from complications due to a fall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Furthermore, 1.8 million older Americans were treated in emergency rooms and 433,000 were hospitalized for falls.

"With the nation's more than 79 million baby boomers headed into their senior years this is a problem that will only continue to escalate," Carey continued. "It's also an underreported health problem that is already having a major impact on our nation's health care system."

In 2000, medical treatment for falls among people over the age of 65 cost our nation more than $19 billion. That number is projected to increase to $43.8 billion by 2020.

"With this legislation Congress has taken an important step in finding a way to deal with the growing crisis of falls," said Carey. "We hope the White House recognizes the devastating impact of falls on our elderly and signs this bill into law."

The NSC began its commitment to secure a Congressional bill for the prevention of older adult falls in 2002. In later years it joined with the Falls Free Coalition to build momentum behind this effort. In addition to NSC, this campaign brought together the National Council on Aging, the Home Safety Council, AARP, the American Occupational Therapy Association, and the American Physical Therapy Association.

The National Safety Council (http://www.nsc.org) is a nonprofit, nongovernmental, public service organization. Members of the NSC include businesses, labor organizations, schools, public agencies, private groups and individuals. Founded in 1913 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1953, the National Safety Council is committed to preventing accidental injuries in the workplace, on roads and highways, and in homes and communities.


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SOURCE National Safety Council
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