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Washington D.C. - Seniors are a step closer to sturdy ground after the Senate's unanimous passage of legislation November 18 designed to help them prevent seniors from falling, according to U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who is sponsoring the bill.

The Keeping Seniors Safe From Falls Act of 2004, S. 1217, would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to develop public education on fall prevention for the elderly and those involved with the elderly, and will also expand research on approaches to fall prevention and treatment. Funding for this education and research would only use existing funds. Enzi believes that by reducing the number of incidents we would see a cost savings.

"Anyone who has an elderly parent, relative or friend who lives alone knows about the concern that comes with an unanswered phone call," said Enzi. "For many of our nation's elderly, a fall means serious injury. This act will help to prevent falls and ease our minds."

In 1999, more than 16,000 people were killed due to unintentional falls across the nation. Fall-related medical expenses for those ages 65 and older cost more than $20 billion each year, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Enzi said those costs are expected to increase to $32 billion by the year 2020.

"Education, prevention and early intervention will reduce the occurrences and costs of unintentional falls," said Enzi.