MESA, AZ: October 1, 2015 -The BHHS Legacy Foundation of Phoenix (BHHS) has awarded A.T. Still University of Health Sciences (ATSU) a $95,000 grant to support the University’s Fall Prevention Outreach program – the largest university-based fall-prevention initiative in the country.

Since the program began in 2008, more than 2,000 Arizonans have completed the eight-week curriculum, which gives older adults the tools they need to prevent falls and manage the often-paralyzing fear of falling that comes with growing older. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, injuries sustained from falls are the leading cause of accident injury deaths in Arizonans 65 and older.

ATSU uses A Matter of Balance, a nationally- recognized fall-prevention curriculum developed by Boston University. After receiving special training, teams of ATSU students will offer the curriculum, at no cost, to older citizens at 41 community sites in the Greater Phoenix area. Collaborations with partners ranging from local municipalities to assisted-living communities make the program possible.

Part of the grant will fund the certification of 15 “master trainers” who will teach the two-day A Matter of Balance curriculum to the ATSU students and the community volunteers who will, in turn, teach the sessions. The grant will also fund the expansion of the program to an additional 24 sites, for a total of 65.

“BHHS Legacy Foundation board and staff are proud to be affiliated with such an innovative community health prevention program that targets and promotes health and wellness among our community’s older adult population,” said BHHS Legacy Foundation CEO Gerald L. Wissink, FACHE. “We applaud the leadership of ATSU in expanding falls prevention in Arizona.”

“Falls in older adults are a global community health concern and numerous reports have highlighted the extent of this problem. Additionally, falls lead to substantial economic and human costs, largely due to unplanned medical emergencies and hospitalization costs,” said Elton Bordenave, director of the Aging Studies Project at ATSU.

The CDC reports that every 14 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall, and that every 29 minutes an older adult dies from a fall-related injury. The financial repercussion of falls among older adults will only increase as the population ages and may reach $59.6 billion by 2020, according to the National Council on Aging. However, according to a 2013 report to Congress by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, participation by older adults in a falls prevention program has shown a reduction in healthcare costs.

Arizona seniors who have participated in the program report positive changes in their level of mobility and attitude toward life. Dorothy Hannisian, a 90-year-old participant, enrolled in the program after a devastating fall in her kitchen had left her fearful. “I don’t want to exist. I want to live,” she told her trainer.

Bordenave has heard it many times before. “Many older adults fear falling, and they stop going out with friends, to the mall or to public places,” he says. “Fear of falling limits their activities and social engagements resulting in depression, physical decline and social isolation.”

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