The Administration on Aging (AoA), a component of the Administration for Community Living, has announced the award of $4 million in new grants intended to significantly expand falls prevention efforts.

According to a news release from the US Department of Health & Human Services, the move is part of the White House Conference on Aging.

The release notes that the funding will reach communities in seven states during the next 2 years, thereby expanding the reach of AoA’s falls prevention efforts to more than 18,000 additional older Americans. The grants are designed to both increase participation in evidence-based community programs to reduce falls and falls risk, as well as improve the programs’ long-term sustainability.

Grants will be awarded to the following organizations: Dartmouth Center for Healthy Aging, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center & Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (ACO), NH; Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging, Wis; New York State Department of Health, NY; The Oasis Institute, Mo; New Jersey Department of Human Services, NJ; Partners in Care Foundation, Calif; and United Way of Tarrant County, Texas.

Kathy Greenlee, assistant secretary for Aging and Administrator for Community Living, points out in the release that many people who fear falling often limit their activities in order to avoid situations that may lead to a fall.

“But limiting activities can diminish physical fitness, which makes a fall more likely. That’s why HHS experts have developed tools to help doctors assess the risk for their older patients, and for community organizations to reduce that risk through evidence-based falls prevention programs that build strength and improve balance,” Greenlee explains.

The release states that research indicates falls and fall risks can be reduced through a combination of clinical and community-based prevention programs. A variety of evidence-based community programs have reportedly been shown, through randomized controlled trials, to reduce falls and/or fall risk factors significantly.

The AoA has also recently funded the National Falls Prevention Resource Center. The center will work collaboratively with the aging services network, falls prevention grantees, and other stakeholders to increase public education about the risk of falls and how to prevent them, and to enhance the sustainability of local prevention efforts.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put an emphasis on making falls prevention a routine part of clinical care through its initiative called STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents Deaths & Injuries) initiative.

STEADI is designed to use established clinical guidelines and tested interventions designed to help healthcare providers address their older patient’s fall risk, pinpoint modifiable risk factors, and provide effective interventions. In an effort to help integrate STEADI into clinical practice, the release says the CDC is releasing an online STEADI course offering free continuing education credits to physicians, nurses, certified health education specialists, certified public health professionals, and other professionals.

The training will be available on CDC TRAIN starting on July 13, the release notes.

[Source: US Department of Health & Human Services]