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Departments of Aging and Health Promote Evidence-Based Fall Prevention and Awareness Programs


Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) and Department of Health (DOH), in a continued effort to maintain the health and wellness of older Pennsylvanians, are  highlighting two evidence-based fall prevention and awareness programs for older Pennsylvanians:

  • Healthy Steps for Older Adults (HSOA), PDA’s evidence-based fall prevention program, which will soon be promoted to other State Units on Aging; and
  • A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns About Falls, a structured evidence-based group intervention program delivered by DOH. 

Healthy Steps for Older Adults is a nationally recognized community and evidence-based fall risk screening, assessment, and education program for adults aged 50 and older; and is designed to reduce the incidence of falls, improve overall health, and provide medical referrals and aging service resources.


"Falling is not a normal part of aging, yet falls are the leading cause of injury for Pennsylvanians 65 years of age and older," said Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne. “To date, nearly 40,000 Pennsylvanians have participated in the program and the success stories are inspiring, whereby participants have reported changes in attitudes and behaviors where they are now eating more healthful meals, identifying and arranging for home repairs and improvements to reduce in-home falls, and experiencing increased confidence and energy levels.”


Since 2005, HSOA has provided the following core elements:

  • Screenings, which include both demonstration of physical skills and a review of individual’s environment, health, and lifestyle;
  • Education, which includes the Healthy Steps in Motion exercise program for people of all fitness levels, and "Preventing Falls" and "Staying Active" workshops; and
  • Referrals to physicians, therapists, exercise groups, home modifications programs and other health supports facilities and fall prevention workshops.

A Matter of Balance is an 8-week structured group intervention that emphasizes practical strategies to reduce fear of falling and increase activity levels. Participants also learn to view falls and fear of falling as controllable, set realistic goals to increase activity, change their environment to reduce fall risk factors, and exercise to increase strength and balance.


“Anyone can be seriously injured by a fall, particularly older Pennsylvanians who are at greater risk of suffering bone fractures,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy. “Fall prevention education is important to reduce injuries and suffering. For older residents, learning better balance techniques can lead to increased confidence, physical activity, and overall general wellness.”


In addition to being well received by older adults, HSOA has also won several awards, including the Council of State Government Silver Award for exemplary falls programs and the National Media Bronze Award for consumer outreach.


Given the success of PDA’s fall prevention program and to further promote its low-cost and high value, HSOA can be easily adopted for use in additional sites where seniors congregate, such as fitness clubs and high-rise senior apartments. Moreover, in consideration of the Older Americans Act 2016 Reauthorization, whereby Title IIID funds for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Services are reserved for programs that meet evidence-based criteria for effectiveness, PDA is pleased to announce that the Healthy Steps for Older Adults program, which meets the criteria necessary for reimbursement, will be promoted to other State Units on Aging.


"A single fall can easily be a life changer for the older adult and their family members who may quickly find themselves needing to either provide or arrange for care,” said Secretary Osborne. “Our foundation includes preventing instability of health and wellness by engaging, empowering and enabling older Pennsylvanians to age in place with dignity; which is why we are so pleased to share our fall prevention experience, the successes we’ve achieved, and the expertise we’ve accumulated by making Healthy Steps for Older Adults available to others.”


The opportunity to promote these evidence-based fall prevention programs, that have positively impacted the quality of life for older Pennsylvanians, is timely as the Departments of Aging and Health observe September 22, 2016, as National Falls Prevention Awareness Day in the commonwealth.  


For more information regarding the departments health and wellness programs, please visit


MEDIA CONTACT:    PDA, Drew Wilburne, 717-705-3702

                                   DOH, April Hutcheson, 717-787-1783



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