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First Day of Fall: Think Fall Prevention

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 | 05:55am

Injury from falls a leading cause of death for Tennessee seniors

NASHVILLE– A simple fall can be a nuisance for many people, but for a senior adult, it can be a matter of life or death. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has declared September 22, 2013 as Falls Prevention Awareness Day to promote simple ways to prevent and reduce falls among older adults.

“Falls are not a ‘normal’ part of aging we should expect or accept,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Most falls are predictable and preventable, and we’re working to educate Tennesseans about this important health issue so we can all remain active and independent for years to come.”

The theme for Falls Prevention Awareness Day 2013 is Preventing Falls-One Step at a Time. This observance is designed to unite professionals, older adults, caregivers and family members to play a part in raising awareness and preventing falls in the older adult population.

Falls are a leading cause of death and injury in Tennessee. TDH data show adults aged 65 and older made up 86 percent of all deaths from falls in 2011, while comprising only 13.7 percent of Tennessee’s population.

“Tennessee’s population of senior adults is expected to increase 61 percent between 2011 and 2030, so it’s important to address this growing public health issue,” said TDH Injury Prevention and Detection Program Director Rachel Heitmann, MS. “For many of our seniors, preventing falls is a way to maintain independence and quality of life and reduce health care costs.”

TDH recommends the following simple strategies for preventing falls among older adults:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Have annual vision checks
  • Review medications with your health care provider to reduce side effects
  • Wear sensible shoes
  • Perform a simple fall prevention checklist to reduce hazards


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a checklist available online at

Tennesseans of all ages are urged to take precautions to prevent falls, which are the top cause of traumatic brain injury in Tennessee. In 2011, more than 49 percent of traumatic brain injury-related hospitalizations in Tennessee were due to falls. In that same year, more than 46 percent of TBI-related emergency department visits in our state were due to falls. Learn more about the TDH Traumatic Brain Injury Program at

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. For more information about TDH services and programs, visit

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