Weak elderly woman with walking stick waiting for help after breathlessness attack .Elderly woman fell on the floor.

A new $1 million grant could help researchers at Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine prevent falls in older adults.

Thanks to the two-year grant provided by the Florida Medical Malpractice Joint Underwriting Association, researchers will investigate several emergency department prevention strategies in older people at high risk for falls. They also will identify effective fall prevention strategies that target limited resources to high-risk seniors.

Richard Shih, M.D., principal investigator for the study, said emergency departments provide an ideal opportunity to target and maximize resources to reduce the risk of falls-related injuries.

“Importantly, older patients who have injured themselves after a fall and come to the emergency department have an even higher risk for recurrent falls and subsequent injuries,” Shih said in a statement. “Targeting older individuals and their caregivers in the emergency department could provide the most beneficial return when limited resources are available to enhance safety in these individuals.”

The researchers said Florida is the perfect location for the study because it has the highest percentage of geriatric patients in the U.S. who can provide vital data on the best strategies to prevent falls in a high-risk population.

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in people 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They account for more than 3 million injuries and 34,000 deaths annually and cost the insurance industry approximately $50 billion a year.

A new program at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles is using bone density scans to prevent at-risk seniors from falling and potentially breaking bones or sustaining other life-threatening injuries.