The Senior Advantage: Empowering Older Adults in Injury Prevention Messaging

Steve Woehrle, PMP1, Megan Walker, MPH2 and Kristen Henry, PMP1, (1)CACI International’s Integrated Communications (CiC) Team, CACI International, Chantilly, VA, (2)Health Surveillance and Analytics, CACI International, Atlanta, GA


Falls and fires are the two leading causes of unintentional injuries and deaths among adults aged 65 and older. Older adults are four times more likely than adults aged 25-64 to be hospitalized due to a fall-related injury. They are also 10 to 15 times more likely to be fatally injured in a fall and twice as likely to be killed or injured in a fire. Many of these injuries, however, are easily preventable by removing hazards and adhering to simple safety guidelines.

Program background:

CACI International’s Integrated Communications (CiC) Team with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) develops media products to help adults identify safety hazards which, if removed, could prevent falls and fires. The audience for these products includes adults aged 65 and older – who are disproportionately affected by these hazards – as well as their adult children or caregivers.

The “Name That Fall!” PSA presents a game show with a host and three contestants – two older adults and an animated area rug. The host asks questions about falls, causes and prevention methods. The two older adult contestants respond with correct answers to each question, while the area rug (a significant fall hazard) provides incorrect answers and opposes correct answers.

The “Senior Fire Safety” PSA depicts an older adult couple identifying and removing fire hazards for their adult daughter. While their daughter creates and suggests actions that increase the likelihood of a fire, the older adults correct and educate the daughter.

Evaluation Methods and Results:

The Senior Fire Safety video was viewed 16,705 times on YouTube. Television producers picked it up on PR Newswire and it aired nationally 3,387 times to an audience of 22.3 million, 71% of whom were at least 35 years old. 65% of viewers 35 years and older were over age 55. The Senior Falls PSA aired nationally 6,220 times to an audience of 20.5 million, 67% of whom were 35 years of age and older. Of those viewers 35 years and older, 66% were over age 55.


While safety products marketed to older adults often depict them as more dependent on others and at times clumsy, CPSC and CiC take an alternative approach, depicting the older adult as knowledgeable and self-sufficient. By putting the older adult in the mentorship role to their caregiver, the PSA seeks to foster a more positive reception from the older adult audience. Additionally, the PSAs use light-hearted imagery as a communication tool, the game show format, for example.

Implications for research and/or practice:

Studies suggest that older adults value their autonomy and independence. Flipping the imagery of the adult child assuming the parental role, infantilizing their parent, to show the value of the older adult’s knowledge and life experiences may prove promising. Surveys and focus groups may serve to strengthen our knowledge on the specific appeals for different age groups among older adults, especially for the youngest age group of older adults who may not see themselves in messaging and imagery intended for them.