National Prevention Strategy Recognizes the Role of Fall Prevention

Related topics: Fall Prevention

As we saw in the previous article, the National Prevention Strategy recognizes that good health comes not just from receiving quality medical care, but also from stopping disease before it starts. Effective steps include promoting regular exercise, healthy eating, and safe homes and communities.

Senior woman with cane

The strategy places a strong emphasis on empowering community, non-profit, and faith-based organizations, and increasing the number of organizations providing population-based primary prevention services in injury, mental illness, substance abuse, chronic disease programs, physical activity, nutrition, and others.

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the NCOA-led Falls Free© Coalition applaud the alignment of the strategy with their vision of promoting healthy aging. "NCOA's goals strongly align with the vision of the National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy, which includes moving the nation from a focus on sickness and disease to one based on prevention and wellness," said Dr. Nancy Whitelaw, NCOA senior vice president for healthy aging. "This is a dramatic shift in the way all adults need to think about their health care, and we welcome its inclusion in the national conversation."

NCOA is especially pleased with the National Prevention Strategy's focus on preventing falls, which are the nation’s leading cause of fatal injury among older adults. NCOA leads the Falls Free© Coalition, a national network of organizations, and state and local coalitions dedicated to reducing the number of falls among older adults.

The rate of fall-related deaths among adults aged 65 and older has risen dramatically. The rate rose from 23.7 deaths per 100,000 in 1993 to the current rate of 45.3, according to the report. To combat this alarming trend, the National Strategy recommends the following:

  • Health care systems, clinicians and insurers conduct falls-risk assessments for older adults, including medication review and modification and vision screening.
  • Health care systems, clinicians and insurers implement and test models for increasing falls-risk assessments (e.g., physician education and linkages with community-based services).
  • Community, non-profits, and faith-based organizations build public awareness about preventing falls, promoting falls prevention programs in home and community-based settings, and educating older adults on how to prevent falls.
  • Individuals and families engage in regular physical activity to increase strength and balance to help prevent falls.

"With a new national focus on prevention, a mounting awareness to the issue of older adult falls and the growing availability of evidence-based fall prevention programs and interventions, our hope is to greatly reduce the rate of injurious falls for older adults in this country," said Bonita Lynn Beattie, vice president for injury prevention at NCOA. "The inclusion of falls in the National Prevention Strategy is giving the deserved recognition to this largely preventable public health issue."

Next month: learn more about the NCOA's healthy aging programs and the NCOA-led Falls Free © Initiative.