The US Senate has a special committee on aging which is chaired by Senator Susan M. Collins with Ranking Member Robert P. Casey charged with examining issues of particular relevance to the needs of older Americans and informs policy in Congress for this segment of the population. The committee was actually created as a temporary committee in 1961 and became a permanent committee on February 1, 1977.
This year the committee has a focus on the prevention of falls and the management of falls and fall-related injuries.
This hits home to my family as it does so many others. Please allow me to share a personal story. I was recently out of town attending a conference. I called my husband late after the last afternoon session to check in to see how he was doing. To my dismay, he had taken a bad fall when he was trying to get the trash cans back up the driveway. He had stepped onto the wet lawn to pick up a piece of trash and down he went bouncing onto the concrete driveway. He tried to brace his fall, as most people do, and unfortunately, he broke the bones in his hand and skinned up his leg among the other injuries he endured. Luckily, he will heal and it wasn’t a life-threatening injury.
He said it took him a while to get up off the driveway because he thought he had broken his back. He hobbled back into the house and nursed his wounds. He said if our dogs hadn’t stared him down while he was lying on the couch to tell him he was injured, he might not have gone to the emergency room.
Falls happen when we least expect it and often at the worst time. For my family, it was when I was out of town. It is a terrible feeling to be far away when a loved one is injured and you can’t be there to immediately help them.
Falls happen every day to older adults. This is why the special committee on aging is focusing on fall prevention. In 2016, three million older adults were treated in the emergency room according to the letter posted for public review by Senators Collins and Casey. The CDC reported that the average cost for a fall injury is $30,000. It can have a detrimental impact on a senior who has fallen because they fear they may fall again and limit their activity to prevent another fall.
The committee has a special website http://aging.senate.gov. They are asking for “stakeholders to provide recommendations that will advance the goals of reducing falls and fall-related injuries.” Comments should be submitted through email to AnnualReport@aging.senate.gov by June 26, 2019.
Falls and how to best manage fall prevention is a growing concern. If you have ideas or suggestions, please send your comments to the Senators.