Congressional Hearings on Preventing Falls by Older People

Department of Family Services/ Fairfax Area Agency on Aging
12011 Government Center Parkway, Suite 708
Fairfax, Virginia 22035-1104 

Contact for News Media: Grace Lynch, Communications Manager
Adult and Aging Division/Fairfax Area Agency on Aging
Fairfax County Department of Family Services
703-324-5277, TTY 703-449-1186
NR: 1008
May 15, 2008


Fairfax County Program Presented at Congressional Staff Hearings on
Preventing Falls by Older People

A Fairfax County program that helps older people prevent falling was presented to congressional staffers at a briefing hosted by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., the Congressional Prevention Caucus and the National Safety Council on Wednesday, May 7.

The briefing was held to call attention to the fact that falls among older people are widespread, involve enormous medical expense and suffering, and can often be prevented.

Jennifer Edge discussed how the county program helps older people prevent falls and maintain independence. Ms. Edge is a licensed clinical social worker with ElderLink, a program jointly funded by the Department of Family Services’ Adult and Aging Division and Inova Health System.

In a letter to congressional colleagues, Reps. Roybal-Allard, James P. Moran, D-Va., and Joe Knollenberg, R-Mich., shared the following facts about falls among older people:

  • Falls are now the leading cause of injury deaths among people 65 and older.
  • Each year, one in three Americans 65 and older falls and nearly 16,000 die from complications from a fall.
  • The mortality rate from falls for older Americans grew nearly 40 percent between 1999 and 2005.
  • $19 billion was spent on medical treatment for falls in 2000. This number is projected to increase to $43.8 billion by 2020.

The congressional briefing also featured presentations by Jennie Chin Hansen, president, AARP; William O’Connell, executive director for government affairs, National Safety Council; David Wallace, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control; and Lynn Beattie, vice president, National Injury Prevention Center, National Council on Aging..

Ms. Edge’s program, The Independent Living Project, sponsors a series of workshops and classes on maintaining safety and independence to older people and people with disabilities. As part of the project, the county’s Fire and Rescue Department conducts fall prevention workshops.

The program also offers assessments of older people in their homes by geriatric social workers. Social workers evaluate the older person’s home for risks to independence and then offer advice on how to create safer homes and access community services.

The project was launched in 2007 in the county’s Franconia area where over 300 older adults participated. A program for the Annandale and Falls Church areas is currently operating.

The Independent Living Project is a collaborative effort of ElderLink, the Fairfax County Department of Family Services’ Adult and Aging Division, the Fairfax County Department of Community and Recreation Services, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, the Fairfax County Health Department and Inova Health System.

For more information on the Independent Living Project call ElderLink Director Catherine Cole at 703-324-5377.

The project aligns with the Board of Supervisors’ Fairfax 50+ Action Plan, adopted in October 2007. The plan is dedicated to building “a more aging friendly community.” It can be viewed at


Fairfax County is committed to nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in all county programs, services and activities. To request this information in an alternate format, call Department of Family Services' Fairfax Area Agency on Aging at 703-324-5411, TTY 703-449-1186.

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