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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today announced her legislation to prevent falls among seniors passed the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The Safety of Seniors Act of 2007, introduced with Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), authorizes new programs to help prevent falls among older adults through public education, research and demonstration projects.

“Falls don’t discriminate. This is a serious public health problem that directly affects our seniors and their family members,” said Senator Mikulski. “This legislation provides a framework to reduce and prevent elder falls through public education campaigns and important research.”

Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths among persons over 65.

Falls among elderly persons account for approximately 13,000 deaths and

1.8 million emergency room visits annually. Fall-related injuries for people 65 and older cost a total of $27.3 billion in 2003 alone.

The bill focuses on four areas of fall prevention among older adults:

— Public Education Campaigns: Establishes public education campaigns for older adults, family members and health care providers to reduce falls and prevent repeat falls.

— Research Initiative Legislation: Supports research such as identifying older adults who have a high risk of falling by designing, implementing and evaluating the most effective ways to prevent falls, improving the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of older adults who have fallen, and examining barriers to adopt proven fall-prevention strategies.

— Demonstration Projects: Authorizes federal grants for demonstration projects that will focus on the utility of targeted fall-risk screening and referral, programs that use multiple approaches to prevent falls such as physical activity, medication assessment and home modification, targeting newly discharged fall victims at high-risk for second falls, and developing technology to prevent falls.

— Study on Effects of Falls on Health Care Costs: Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to evaluate the effect of falls on health care costs, the potential for reducing falls, and the most effective strategies for reducing health care costs associated with falls.

Senator Mikulski is the Chairman of the HELP Committee’s Subcommittee on Retirement Security and Aging. The bill now moves to the full Senate for a vote, which has not yet been scheduled.

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