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Ohio Department of Aging Press Release

Sept. 16, 2010

State to use first day of autumn to promote falls prevention

Many falls can be prevented through 5 easy steps

COLUMBUS - The Ohio Departments of Aging and Health will join the Ohio Older Adult Falls Prevention Coalition to observe Thursday, Sept. 23 as Falls Prevention Awareness Day in Ohio and encourage all Ohioans to use the autumn season to educate themselves and their loved ones about the risk of falls and fall-related injuries that increases as we age. Aging and public health agencies and advocates all over the state are joining in to spread the word that many falls are preventable through five easy steps.

Leaves are supposed to fall. People aren't. - Click for printable version."When an older person falls, it affects that individual physically, but it also can have an impact on the person's mental well-being and sense of independence," said Barbara E. Riley, director of the Department of Aging. "And, if that individual needs care due to a fall-related injury, his or her family is affected as well. The good news is that families can help prevent most falls by recognizing the risks and making small changes."

"Falls among older adults in Ohio have reached epidemic proportions and account for a disproportionate share of fall-related injuries," added Alvin D. Jackson, M.D., director of the Department of Health. "In 2007, older Ohioans accounted for 21 percent of all fall-related emergency room visits, 70 percent of fall-related inpatient hospitalizations and 83 percent of deaths due to falls, despite representing only 13 percent of the state's overall population. Falls are not a normal part of aging. There are strategies that can help older adults reduce their risk of falling."

Five ways individuals and families can reduce the risk of falls:

  1. Increase your physical activity. Simple exercise, like walking or swimming at least 15 minutes a day can help build muscle strength and improve balance, which can prevent falls. Exercise programs like Tai Chi that increase strength and improve balance are especially good.
  2. See your eye doctor once each year. Age-related eye diseases, such as cataracts, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, can increase the risk of falling. Early detection is key to minimizing the effects of these conditions.
  3. Review your medications. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the medicines you are taking and whether they may cause drowsiness or dizziness. Discuss things you can do to ensure you are taking your medicines safely.
  4. Remove environmental hazards. Look around the house for anything that could increase the risk of falls, including poor lighting, loose rugs, slippery floors and unsteady furniture. Remove or modify these hazards.
  5. Think, plan and slow down. Many falls are caused by hurrying. Slow down and think through the task you are performing. Be mindful of possible falls risks and act accordingly.

Individuals and families also can contact their area agency on aging or local health department office to learn about available trainings and resources designed to reduce the risk of falls. Call toll-free 1-866-243-5678 to be connected to the area agency on aging serving your community.

Facts about falls and older Ohioans:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 percent of adults age 65 and older living in the community fall each year.
  • More than half of all older adults who live in residential care facilities or nursing homes will fall each year.
  • Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths and the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma in older adults.
  • Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls.
  • The risk of falling increases significantly after age 75.
  • Falls account for more than 90 percent of all accidental hip fractures.
  • Fall-related emergency room-visit and inpatient hospitalization rates are higher for falls than all other injuries combined.
  • Falls account for more than two-thirds (68 percent), of the total annual costs of nonfatal, hospital-admitted accidents. In 2003, they amounted to $4.2 billion in Ohio for work-loss, medical costs and quality-of-life-loss.
  • For older Ohioans, the number of fatal falls increased 140 percent from 2000 (367) to 2008 (882).
  • On average, more than 2 older Ohioans suffered fatal falls each day in 2008.
  • " For about 1 in 3 older Ohioans, falls lead to injuries that resulted in a doctor visit or restricted activity.
  • Risk factors for falls include poor health status, prescription drug interactions, impaired cognitive function, use of alcohol, history of falls and impaired vision.
  • Many people who fall, even those who are not injured, may develop a fear of falling, leading them to limit their activities, which in turn, may increase their risk for falls.

More facts about falls and older Ohioans.

About the Ohio Older Adult Falls Prevention Coalition - Comprised of professionals from health, aging and public safety agencies throughout the state, the coalition identifies statewide priorities for reducing the incidence of falls among older Ohioans and helps communities address the issue at a local level. They promote education and awareness, aid with falls prevention infrastructure building, help shape policy, develop interventions and risk assessments, and monitor trends.

About ODA - The Ohio Department of Aging provides leadership for the delivery of services and supports that improve and promote quality of life and personal choice for older Ohioans, adults with disabilities, their families and their caregivers. Working with 12 area agencies on aging and other community partners, the department offers home- and community-based Medicaid waiver programs such as PASSPORT, the long-term care ombudsman program, the Golden Buckeye Card and more. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov.

State of Ohio
Executive Department
Office of the Governor


Ohio Falls Prevention Awareness Day

Falls, as the leading cause of injury-related hospitalization and death among Ohioans aged 65 and older, pose a significant public health problem and are largely preventable.

It is estimated that 13.7 percent of Ohio citizens are 65 years of age or older, yet that age group accounts for more than 80 percent of fatal falls. In addition, fatal fall rates among Ohioans aged 65 and older increased 129 percent from 2000 to 2008, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

The total estimated cost of fatal falls (medical costs, work loss and decreased quality of life) is approximately $646 million annually in Ohio, while non-fatal, hospital-admitted falls among older adults cost more than $4.2 billion annually.

Fall-related emergency room visits and hospitalization rates for Ohioans 65 years and older are higher than rates for all other injuries combined.

It is estimated that one-third of seniors over the age of 65 will fall each year and older adults who fall are two to three times more likely to fall again.

Falling, and the fear of falling, can lead to depression and hopelessness, loss of mobility and loss of functional independence.

The Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Aging are working to reduce the incidence of falls, while the Ohio Older Adults Falls Prevention Coalition, an action group of the Ohio Injury Prevention Partnership, including more than 46 organizations from across the state, is working to increase awareness of this issue.

I, TED STRICKLAND, governor of the State of Ohio, do hereby designate September 23, 2010 as

Ohio Falls Prevention Awareness Day

throughout the state of Ohio and encourage all Ohioans to take steps to protect those who are at increased risk of falling, helping them to remain healthy, active and independent and improving their quality of life. This recognition shall remain in effect until the end of my administration or until rescinded.