September 21, 2011

Missouri Joins National Campaign to Prevent Falls in Older Adults

More than 70 falls-prevention events planned for September

Missouri joins 42 other states in declaring a statewide Falls Prevention Awareness Day on the first day of fall, September 23, 2011.

Slips and falls are the leading cause of injury deaths among people 65 and older. More than 18,000 deaths of older Americans can be attributed to a fall.

According to Margaret Donnelly, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, falls among older adults are also a leading cause of doctor visits, hospital admissions, premature nursing home admissions and emergency room visits.

"We need to do more to inform families, caregivers and the elderly on how to prevent falls," Donnelly said. "Programs and exercises to improve balance and strength can help older adults improve their physical well-being and give them the confidence to live healthier lives and preserve independence."

More than 70 falls prevention events are planned throughout Missouri to help spread the news that falls are preventable. Activities will include balance testing, healthy-home exhibits, medication consultations and other health screenings. A full list of events is available online at

Older adults can take five simple actions to protect their independence and reduce their risk of falling, including:

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines - both prescription and over-the-counter - to reduce side effects and interactions that could cause dizziness or an unsteady gait.
  • Have their eyes checked at least once a year.
  • Improve the lighting in their home.
  • Reduce the hazards in their home that lead to falls, such as loose carpets, lack of bathroom safety equipment and slippery or uneven surfaces.

The events are sponsored by the Show Me Falls-Free Missouri Coalition, a group of more than 50 associations that works to reduce falls and fall-related injuries among older adults.

More information is available by visiting: