Washington, DC (October 16, 2019) – At a hearing today of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) offered several evidence-based solutions to stem the tide of older adult falls, which today account for four older adult deaths every hour.
“We know the predictors for falls, we have tools to identify those most at risk, and we have proven strategies to reduce risk and falls,” said Kathleen Cameron, Senior Director of NCOA’s Center for Healthy Aging. “Yet, falls rates continue to escalate.”
Many factors contribute to falls, which is why NCOA presented a range of multi-stakeholder solutions. Many of NCOA’s recommendations are included in a new report from the Special Committee on Aging released at today’s hearing. They include:
Organize a coordinated federal effort to reduce falls, including a national public awareness and action campaign and a cross-agency collaboration to develop the infrastructure to make it easier for older adults to access and afford falls reduction strategies.
Promote early identification of falls risk factors and early intervention, including recognizing falls as a medical condition; incentivizing health care providers to use the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s STEADI falls risk and assessment tool; further promoting evidence-based community falls prevention programs; and focusing on two of the most modifiable risk factors—medications and home safety.
Improve Medicare to prevent falls, including providing Medicare reimbursement for falls risk screening, referral management, and evidence-based community programs; expanding payment for the Welcome to Medicare and Annual Wellness Visits to physical and occupational therapist; and developing Medicare falls prevention billing codes.
“NCOA’s recommendations are the result of more than 12 years of research and leadership on the front lines of falls prevention,” said Cameron. “NCOA applauds the bipartisan work of Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA) in championing our evidence-based solutions to this critical health issue which impacts every single older adult in America.”
NCOA directs the National Falls Prevention Resource Center, funded by U.S. Administration for Community Living, and it leads the National Falls Free® Initiative, which includes coalitions in 43 states. Every year, on the first day of fall, NCOA sponsors Falls Prevention Awareness Day to bring attention to the issue and proven solutions.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a trusted national leader working to ensure that every person can age well. Since 1950, our mission has not changed: Improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are struggling. NCOA empowers people with the best solutions to improve their own health and economic security—and we strengthen government programs that we all depend on as we age. Every year, millions of people use our signature programs BenefitsCheckUp®, My Medicare Matters®, and the Aging Mastery Program® to age well. By offering online tools and collaborating with a nationwide network of partners, NCOA is working to improve the lives of 40 million older adults by 2030. Learn more at ncoa.org and @NCOAging.