COLUMBUS - June is National Safety Month and STEADY U Ohio, an initiative of the Ohio Department of Aging, urges families to take this time to learn more about the leading cause of injury-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths among Ohioans age 65 and older: falls. An older adult falls every minute in Ohio, and two older adults are hospitalized for fall-related injuries each hour among this population. However, falls are not a normal part of aging, and most falls can be prevented.
"The single largest safety concern for our elders and their families has to be falls. Falls among older adults are an epidemic in Ohio and they can impact elders not just physically, but also financially and emotionally," said Bonnie K. Burman, director of the Ohio Department of Aging. "Since aging is everybody's business, it's time for families to work together to understand the seriousness of falls, identify factors that increase a loved one's risk, and take steps to prevent falls."
Factors that increase a loved one's risk for falling include: living with chronic health conditions, taking multiple medications, poor nutrition, dehydration, worsening hearing or vision, decreased physical activity, muscle weakness, dizziness, environmental hazards (such as stairs, clutter and poor lighting), a fear of falling and more.
You and your loved ones can reduce the risk of life-changing falls with minor changes to the three H's - home, health and habits:
- Home: Remove or secure throw rugs; improve lighting especially near stairs; install grab bars in the bathroom; rearrange the home to make frequently used items easier to reach.
- Health: Ask your doctor about a falls risk assessment and talk about medicines you take and whether they increase your risk for falls; have your hearing and vision checked annually.
- Habits: Stay active to maintain or build muscle strength and improve balance; slow down and think through tasks; stay hydrated and eat a well-balanced diet that includes calcium-rich foods.
Find more tips for you and your loved ones to prevent falls at www.steadyu.ohio.gov, and follow SteadyUOhio on Facebook and Twitter for daily tips and more.
Evidence-based falls prevention programs, such as A Matter of Balance and Tai Chi, are also a great tools to understand falls risks and overcome a fear of falling. To find a program near you, contact your local senior center or call 1-866-243-5678 to be connected to your area agency on aging.
About STEADY U Ohio - STEADY U Ohio is a comprehensive falls prevention initiative led by Governor John Kasich and the Ohio Department of Aging, and supported by Ohio government and state business partners to strengthen existing falls prevention activities, identify opportunities for new initiatives and coordinate a statewide educational campaign to bring falls prevention to the forefront of planning for individuals, families, health care providers, business and community leaders and all Ohioans. Visit www.steadyu.ohio.gov.
About ODA - The Ohio Department of Aging works to ensure that Ohio is on the leading edge of innovation in responding to the growing and changing aging population. We work with state agencies, area agencies on aging and other local partners to help integrate aging needs into local plans and ensure that aging Ohioans have access to a wide array of high-quality services and supports that are person-centered in policy and practice. Our programs include the PASSPORT Medicaid waiver, the long-term care ombudsman program, the Golden Buckeye Card and more. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov.
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