September 13, 2013

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Joint News Release: KDHE and KDADS

Joint News Release: KDHE and KDADS

Kansas Joins Nation's Observance of Falls Prevention Awareness Day: Sept. 22

Stepping On classes held across the state

TOPEKA - Kansas is one of 47 states declaring a statewide Falls Prevention Awareness Day on the first day of fall, Sept. 22. This year's theme, Preventing Falls - One Step at a Time, seeks to unite professionals, older adults, caregivers and family members to play a part in raising awareness and preventing falls in the older adult population.

"Older adult falls can lead to serious injuries, death and substantial medical costs," said Robert Moser, M.D., Secretary and State Health Officer, Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). "In 2010 more than 5,700 older Kansas adults (65 years old and older) were discharged from hospitals after a fall and 270 older Kansas adults died from a fall. These injuries and deaths cost more than $130 million in medical expenses. We need to raise awareness of the many preventive measures that can be taken to keep our seniors safe."

Every 15 seconds, an older adult in the U.S. is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for those aged 65 and over. The chances of falling and of being seriously injured in a fall increase with age.

"There are a number of things older adults can do to prevent falls," said Kansas Department for Aging and Disabilities Services (KDADS) Secretary Shawn Sullivan. "Those include maintaining a regular exercise program, removing tripping hazards from your home, ensuring you have adequate lighting, having your eyes checked and talking to your doctor about the potential side effects of the medicines you take. Fortunately, falls are largely avoidable by making a few common-sense lifestyle changes."

At senior centers and other community-based organizations across the United States, programs like Tai Chi and Stepping On help older adults gain the strength, improved balance and confidence to help them live healthier lives and preserve their independence.

In Dickinson County, Kan., the local health department and the county Emergency Medical Services agency have partnered to identify citizens who are falling at home and helping to enroll them in the local falls prevention program.

"All of us can learn to prevent or delay a fall," said LaVeda Montgomery, APRN-CNS, Deputy Director of Health, Dickinson County Health Department. "It is important to realize that we need to continue to repeat our message as we work in our communities because change in behavior takes time. Our goal is to have independent healthy citizens in their own homes. Preventing or delaying a fall will always be less expensive than the cost of a broken hip."

To help older adults reduce falls and increase self confidence in mobility, the Stepping On program will be offered across the state. In June 2013 the KDHE Injury Prevention Program hosted Stepping On master trainers from Wisconsin to train 18 Kansans to be the first Stepping On leader trainers in the state. All 18 leaders will teach at least two classes in the next year.

In Overland Park, Aceso Healthcare invites seniors to join a Stepping On course on Tuesdays, Sept. 17 through Oct. 22, from 10 a.m. to noon or Tuesdays, Oct. 8 through Nov. 19, from 1 to 3 p.m. Both courses will be offered at the Rolling Hills Presbyterian Church, 9300 Nall Ave, Overland Park. To register for the Overland Park course, contact Stacey or Emily at 913-732-0616. For information about classes in other areas of the state, please email

Kansas is part of the National Council on Aging's Falls Free® Initiative, which includes more than 40 states and 70 national organizations, professional associations, and federal agencies across the country dedicated to reducing fall-related injuries and deaths among older adults. For more information about the initiative, please visit: For more information about Falls Prevention Awareness Day, please visit

For more information, a full conference agenda and registration details, visit