Washington, D.C. - The National Safety Council and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission have announced plans to launch a national education campaign aimed at reducing the staggering number of preventable injuries occurring among older Americans.
The announcement coincides with the release of a CPSC study revealing a 73 percent increase in the number of Americans 75 and older treated for product-related injuries in an emergency room from 1991 to 2002. Falls were the leading cause of injury for this age group.
NSC, the nation's leading safety and health advocate dedicated to protecting life and promoting health, identified falls among the elderly as a leading concern in its Safety Agenda for the Nation released in 2000.
According to data from NSC, each week more than 30,000 people over the age of 65 are seriously injured in a fall; nearly 250 die from their injuries. Of those who do survive a fall, 20-30 percent suffer from debilitating injuries that affect them the rest of their life. In addition:
- Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for both males and females 75+.
- The most common serious injury is a hip fracture. More than 24 percent of all people suffering a hip fracture die within a year of the fall and another 50 percent never return to their prior level of mobility and independence.
- A total of 54 percent of all elderly fall-related deaths occur in the home, and 20 percent take place in residential institutions.
"Falls and injuries among the elderly are issues of extreme importance to the National Safety Council," said Alan C. McMillan, president and CEO of NSC. "In 2003, more than 15,000 Americans 65 and older died as a result of unintentional injuries in their homes. We need to take steps now in order to address this urgent national issue."
NSC is the principal organization working with members of Congress to develop elderly falls prevention legislation. The Elderly Falls Prevention Act provides a framework for a comprehensive national education program, research agenda and prevention initiatives.
The council is also in its fourth year of implementing a Healthy Aging Prevention of Fallsproject that includes public education and outreach initiatives. Funded by the Centers for Disease Control, the Healthy Aging project engages the council's chapter network in community-based falls prevention activities.
It is through its extensive chapter network, as well as its volunteer Community Safety Division, that NSC will coordinate activities with the CPSC to educate older Americans about their injury risks.
NSC and CPSC recently renewed a Memorandum of Understanding to formalize their commitment to working together on this and other important safety and health issues.
Learn more about fall prevention and safety information. For more information about NSC's efforts to improve the nation's safety and health, visit www.nsc.org.
The National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) saves lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the roads, through leadership, research, education and advocacy.