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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today announced that her legislation to prevent falls among senior citizens into law has passed both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and is headed to President Bush for his signature. The Safety of Seniors Act of 2007 (S. 845) authorizes new programs to help prevent falls among older adults through public education, research and demonstration projects.

Senator Mikulski is Chairwoman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Retirement and Aging.

“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 over 65 cost over $27 billion ever year.

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 that identifies older adults who have a high risk of falling, by designing, implementing and evaluating the most effective ways to prevent falls, improving the treatment and rehabilitation of older adults who have fallen, and examining barriers to adopt proven fall prevention strategies.

* Demonstration projects: Authorizes federal demonstration programs that will examine fall prevention strategies such as physical activity, medication assessment and home modification, as well as 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.

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