60 seconds with ... Debbie Smith

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Debbie Smith, NCSL President
Debbie Smith, NCSL President

Q: State lawmakers have enacted policies aimed at reducing falls among older adults. Where do things stand now?

A: State legislatures in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Washington have established initiatives to identify the causes of falls. California's legislation specifically addresses osteoporosis as a cause of falls while implementing preventive measures.

Other states, such as Oregon, have appropriated funds to train caregivers and seniors about fall prevention methods they can incorporate into their daily activities. Minnesota created training requirements for personnel who work closely with older adults at risk of falling.

Q: This is obviously a concern for long-term care providers. Why are state lawmakers so involved as well?

A: Each year, one in three older adults — those over 65 years of age — will fall. In 2013, 2.5 million older adults were treated for nonfatal falls. Direct medical costs associated with falls average $34 billion annually. 

Q: Where can providers learn more?

A: They can visit NCSL's fall informational site: www.ncsl.org/research/health/elderly-falls-prevention-legislation-and-statutes.aspx. 

Another resource is the CDC Injury Center's STEADI site.