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The Ohio Department of Aging

Ohio Department of Aging Aging Connection

Aging Connection

CONNECT TO | Health & Wellness
April 2011

Safety is no accident, live injury-free
Preventing injuries in our homes and communities

It only takes a moment for an injury to happen - a fall on a stair, a moment's glance away from the road, an innocent medication mix-up. Each year, nearly 150,000 people die from injuries, and almost 30 million people are injured seriously enough to go to the emergency room. In Ohio, unintentional injury is the leading cause of death for ages 1 through 44 and the fifth leading cause of death overall. Adults age 80 and older have 20 times the risk for death from injury as younger individuals. In a single year, more than 7,200 Ohioans died from injury-related causes.

injury prevention

According to the Ohio Hospital Association, fall-related emergency department visit and inpatient hospitalization rates for Ohioans 65 years and older were higher than rates for all other injuries combined. Some facts about fall-related injuries in older adults include:

  • Each day on average, two Ohioans age 65 or older suffer fatal falls.
  • From 2000 to 2008, Ohioans age 65 and older experienced a 141 percent increase in the number of fatal falls and 132 percent increase in the fall death rate.
  • Ohioans age 65 and older accounted for 82 percent of fatal falls in 2008, while they represented only 14 percent of the population.
  • Three out of four fall-related injuries among older adults occur in or around the home.

To make homes safer:

  • Remove things someone could trip over - like papers, books, clothes and shoes - from stairs and walkways, and move furniture so there is a clear path through rooms.
  • Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping.
  • Keep often-used items in cabinets that can be reached easily without using a step stool.
  • Install grab bars next to the toilet and in the tub or shower and use non-slip mats or self-stick strips on the bathtub and shower floors.
  • Improve the lighting in the home. Replace all burnt out light bulbs and install night lights.
  • Have handrails installed on all staircases and fix any loose or uneven steps. Make sure the carpet is firmly attached to every step, or remove the carpet and attach non-slip rubber treads to the stairs. Paint a contrasting color on the top edge of all steps to make them more visible.

It is easy to think that accidents just happen, but that they will not happen to you. However, most injuries are not accidents - they are preventable. Knowing your risks and taking steps to avoid injuries can help keep you and your loved ones safe. You can help make your home and community a safer place to live. Don't wait until an injury happens to take steps to live accident-free.

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Older adults make half of all trips to the ER for drug interactions
Adults age 50 and older made more than 1.1 million trips to the emergency room for adverse drug interactions in 2008, according to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report. People age 65 and older made more than half of these visits (61.5 percent). The report shows that the majority of visits involving adverse reactions among older adults involved only one drug and of the nearly one third (32.9 percent) of visits that resulted in a hospital admission among this population, 76.9 percent involved only one medication as well.

 

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