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Help Seniors Stay on Their Feet

Falls are a serious public health problem, one that is largely preventable. Falls increase with age. One out of every three people ages 65 years and older fall each year. In fact, it is estimated that 50 percent of older adults 80 years and older will fall each year.
  • —  Falls are the leading cause of injury death for older Americans
  • —  20-30 percent of older adults who fall suffer serious injury
  • —  Nearly one-half of all seniors sustaining a fall DO NOT resume independent living
  • —  Fear of falls limits physical activity
  • —  By 2020, the total cost of fall injuries expected to reach $55 billion

            In North Dakota, there were 88 falls-related deaths among adults 65 years and older in 2013.  Here are a few more North Dakota falls-related facts:

  • —  Falls remain the third leading cause of injury-related fatalities in the state, behind motor vehicle crashes and suicides (for all ages).
  • —  Between 2009-2013, 89% of falls-related deaths among ND residents were individuals 65 years and older.
  • —  North Dakota has seen a substantial increase in the number of deaths related to residents’ falls from 2003 to 2008.

            Because falls are largely preventable, we need to promote strategies and programs that prevent them.  One intervention being offered to community-dwelling older adults is called Stepping On, an evidence-based falls prevention program administered by the ND Department of Health, Division of Injury Prevention and Control.  Currently, this 7-week program has 64 certified Class Leaders and is being offered in 26 counties.  Initial evaluation results indicate positive outcomes for participants.  For more information on scheduled Stepping On workshops and class leader training opportunities, go to: http://www.ndhealth.gov/injury/trainings.htm

            In recognition of September being National Falls Prevention Month, I would ask for your help in doing the following things:

            For more information about falls prevention among older adults, contact Jane Strommen at jane.strommen@ndsu.edu or 701-231-5948.

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