STEADY U Ohio Spotlight Archive

The STEADY U Ohio web page includes a seasonal spotlight focusing on a timely topic and tips to help prevent falls. Previous spotlights can be accessed here.


Learn more about the STEADY U Ohio falls prevention initiative.

April 2020: Talk to your doctor before you fall

Talk to your doctor before you fall

Talk to your doctor before you fall

Falling is not a normal part of aging, and most falls can be prevented. It can help to talk with your doctor or other member of your health care team about what you can do to prevent falls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that you talk with your medical professional each year to evaluate your falls risk.

So what can you expect when you talk with your doctor?

  • Your doctor may give you a falls risk assessment, which could include a questionnaire or physical tasks.
  • Staff may check your blood pressure and pulse rate while you are sitting and standing.
  • Your doctor or pharmacist will talk with you about the medicines you take. Some medicines can make you dizzy or sleepy. Tell your doctor about all medicines that you take, including herbs, supplements and over-the-counter medicines.
  • Your doctor may refer you to a vision or hearing specialist, a podiatrist, or other specialist.
  • Your doctor may also recommend a home safety inspection to check for trip hazards, like throw rugs, cluttered walkways or unsafe bathrooms.

Falls continue to be the number one cause of injury, and death from injury, for older adults, according to the CDC. This represents 30 million falls, three million emergency department (ED) visits, 800,000 hospital stays, and 30,000 deaths in older adults nationwide each year.

Talking with your doctor before a fall is vital to prevent a life-changing accident.

Visit to find more falls prevention tips and resources.

March 2020: Eat to stay on your feet

Eat to stay on your feet

Eat to stay on your feet

You’ve heard it before: You are what you eat. But did you know that healthy eating can also help prevent falls? Eating nutritious foods protects bones, joints and muscles. Eating well gives you strength and stamina, which helps you stay active and independent.

The definition of healthy eating changes as you age. For example, your body may need more of certain nutrients and fewer calories than before. It is important to choose foods that give you the best nutritional value.

March is National Nutrition Month when you are encouraged to "Eat Right, Bite by Bite." We encourage you to think about how what you eat can help you stay steady on your feet.

The National Council on Aging recommends these steps to find the best foods for a steady body:

  • Read the nutrition food label. Food labels can help you find items that are lower in fat, added sugars and sodium and salt.
  • Look for important nutrients. Remember to choose foods that are calcium-rich and high in fiber. Also, look for vitamin D, an important nutrient as we age.
  • Use recommended servings. To maintain your weight, eat the right amount of food for your age and body.
  • Stay hydrated. Staying properly hydrated prevents low blood pressure, dizziness, fatigue and confusion

Talk to your health care professional for guidance to help you make good food choices. Your area agency on aging can also help answer any questions you have about nutrition.

Visit to find more falls prevention tips and resources.

February 2020: Chronic pain

Chronic pain & falls: Don’t let pain stop you in your tracks

Don't let pain stop you in your tracks

If you are in chronic pain, you probably don’t want to move around, much less exercise. But when you don’t move, you risk losing muscle strength that helps you keep your balance. You may also take medicines to treat your pain that can make you drowsy and less steady on your feet.

People with severe chronic pain are up to 79.2 percent more likely to fall than those without pain, according to an analysis in the journal Pain Medicine.

Studies have shown that older adults are less likely than younger adults to talk to their doctors about chronic pain. Often, older adults feel that pain comes with age, and that reporting it is unnecessary.

Pain is not a natural part of aging and experiencing pain severe enough to impact the way you live is not normal. Most conditions that cause chronic pain can be managed, and the pain controlled, in many cases without pain medicine.

Talk with your health care team about your pain and your history of falls to determine the best treatment options for you.

There are ways to cope with and reduce pain without medicine, such as relaxation exercises, and exercise and balancing activities.

You can find resources and tips to manage pain at HEALTHY U Ohio.

Visit to find more falls prevention tips and resources to make your home a falls free zone.

January 2020: Start the New Year Right: Resolve to Not Fall

Start the New Year Right: Resolve to Not Fall

New Year's Resolution: Resolve to Not Fall

Are you looking for one New Year’s resolution that can improve your life? Resolve to prevent falls for yourself and older loved ones. Falls can be devastating. Even if you aren’t badly injured, a fall can lead to a fear of falling which can cause you to limit your activities. The good news is that most falls can be prevented by paying attention to the Three Hs: Your Home, your Health and your Habits.

Home: Falls prevention begins at home. Arrange furniture to create clear pathways, remove throw rugs, install extra lighting, and keep walkways clear of clutter.

Health: A healthy body is a steady body. Make healthy choices. Add exercise to your routine and eat nutritious meals. Talk with your health care professionals about your medications and ask for referrals for vision and hearing tests.

Habits: The decisions you make and the things you do every day can affect your likelihood of falling. Adopt healthy habits and drop bad ones. Fifteen minutes of simple exercise, like walking, each day can have an impact. Try to slow down and think through the task you are performing.

Falling is not a normal part of aging. By resolving to manage your risk factors, you can live a full and active life free of the fear of falling.

Visit to find more falls prevention tips and resources to make your home a falls free zone

December 2019: Sleep quality and falls - There is a connection

Sleep quality and falls – There is a connection

Sleep quality and falls – There is a connection

If you have problems sleeping and are up often during the night, you may be at increased risk for potentially dangerous falls. Sleep problems, and the medications used to treat them, may increase the risk of falls.

According to doctors, almost all medicines to promote sleep should be used only for a short time. Their side effects can include dizziness and daytime drowsiness. It is important to talk with your doctor about the safe use of all medicines and supplements you take, including those that help you sleep.

Good sleep habits can improve your health and decrease your risk of falls. The following tips may help you sleep better each night:

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
  • Limit napping during the day. If needed, take only one 20 to 30-minute nap.
  • Try not to drink too much fluid before bed.
  • Use your bed only for sleep and not for other activities like watching TV or eating.
  • Take time to relax before bed. It may help to read, listen to music or take a warm shower or bath.
  • Keep a soothing and comfortable bedroom environment.
  • Limit your use of electronic devices or bright lights before bed.
  • Avoid tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol. These may make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Exercise regularly during the day. Do not exercise too close to bedtime.

Visit to find more falls prevention tips and resources to make your home a falls free zone

November 2019: Make your home safe for your holiday guests

Make your home safe for your holiday guests

Make you rhome safe for your holiday guests

One minute, you have trick-or-treaters at your door, and now there are friends and family visiting for Thanksgiving dinner and other holiday festivities.

Is your house ready for guests – particularly those who might be at increased risk for a fall? Nothing can ruin a celebration faster than a trip to the emergency room for injuries from a fall that could have been prevented. Make your home an inviting and safe place for all your visitors to celebrate the holidays.


  • Keep walkways and steps clear of leaves and debris;
  • Ensure outdoor walkways and steps are well lit; and
  • Fix broken or uneven steps and loose handrails.


  • Remove rugs or secure them to the floor with double-faced tape, tacks, or a slip-resistant backing;
  • Use extra lamps and nightlights to help your guests find their way in your home any time of day;
  • Store clothing, linens, dishes, food, and other necessities your guests may need within easy reach; and
  • Arrange furniture to create clear, straight paths for walking and minimize the need to walk around things.

Visit to find more falls prevention tips and resources to make your home a falls free zone.

Autumn 2019: Autumn Falls Prevention

Leaves Are Supposed to Fall, People Aren't

As the temperature starts its downward trend, and the days get increasingly shorter, it's time to start thinking about autumn and winter falls risks and how you can eliminate or reduce them.

  • Leaves, branches and other debris from trees due to the change in seasons can make walkways slippery or hide tripping hazards, like uneven surfaces, edges and steps. Keep walkways clean, and if you can't see that the surface is clear and flat, pick another path.
  • If winterizing your home includes cleaning gutters, changing light bulbs or other tasks that require you to get up high, use a step ladder or a step stool with a handle, and maintain three points of contact (two feet and a hand, or two hands and a foot) at all times. Do not climb on chairs or other furniture that was not designed for that purpose.
  • Shorter days mean less direct sunlight and less sunlight overall, meaning you may need more light to get around your home safely. Invest in extra lamps, nightlights and exterior pathway lights to make sure you can always see where you are walking, especially around doorways and stairs. Use the highest-wattage bulb recommended for your fixtures.
  • Don't let the cooler weather and shorter days limit your activity. Exercise that builds and maintains strength and balance is important to prevent falls year-round. Ask your doctor or physical therapist about indoor exercises that can help you maintain strength and balance when you can't venture out.
  • As the temperature drops, bundle up to stay warm, but make sure you can see in all directions and move easily and freely.
  • Keep shoes and walking aids (canes, walkers) free of dirt and mud. Dry them off immediately upon coming in from wet conditions. Remember, wet shoes are just as dangerous as wet floors.
  • If your autumn plans include attending one of Ohio's great fall fairs and festivals, stick to paved surfaces as much as possible; watch for trash, hoses and cables on walkways; drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated; and consider attending at off-peak times, when the crowds are lighter.

September 2019: Night may fall, but you don't have to

Night may fall, but you don't have to

Night may fall, but you don't have to

The shorter days of Fall are here. As it gets dark earlier, now is a good time to brighten up your home. One of the top ways to prevent falls is to make sure that homes are always well-lit.

As we get older, our vision changes. These changes can lead to challenges navigating in the dark. Poor lighting can hide obstacles or make shadows worse, which can make it harder to safely get around your home.

Tips to brighten up your home:

  • Use the highest wattage bulbs recommended for your fixtures.
  • Invest in compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs, which can produce brighter light using less energy.
  • Keep a flashlight near your bed.
  • Consider replacing traditional lamps with touch-sensitive models that are easier to use in the dark.
  • Install night lights along the path between your bedroom and the bathroom.
  • Increase lighting at the top and bottom of stairs.
  • Replace light switch plates with ones that glow in the dark.
  • Have an electrician install light switches at every doorway to avoid walking across dark rooms to get to the switch.

Talk to a lighting specialist at your local home improvement store to pick the best lights for your home. These changes are low cost and are a good investment in preventing falls.

Visit to find more falls prevention tips and resources to make your home a falls free zone.

August 2019: Mind your medications - non-prescription doesn't equal safe

Mind your medications; non-prescription doesn't equal safe

Mind your medications

You’ve heard it before: Talk to your health care provider about all the prescription and non-prescription medicines and supplements you take.

But over-the-counter (OTC) medications and supplements are safe, aren’t they? The doctor told you to take a certain medication. So why should you mention everything you take?

While medications are intended to make us feel better, most medicines, even OTC medications, can have side effects, such as dizziness or drowsiness. The more medicines you take, the more likely you will have to deal with unwanted side effects. These can not only cause you to fall, but they can also impact other aspects of your life.

Some combinations of medications with OTC treatments can affect how the food you eat is absorbed in your body. Some combinations can cause fatigue, weight gain and headache. Your doctor may prescribe a medication to treat a troublesome symptom that is actually a side effect of a medication you are already taking.

Beyond preventing falls, talking to your doctor regularly about the medications you take has other benefits:

  • You could find out you don’t need some of the OTC medications you are taking.
  • You could learn a simpler schedule to take your medications; and
  • You could save some money as you stop taking some medications.

Remember: Non-prescription medicines should be treated with the same care and respect as prescription medications.

June 2019: Exercise to prevent falls

What type of exercise really helps prevent falls?

Balance training is the mainstay of fall prevention programs, but strength, as well as balance, is key to preventing a fall. Combining different forms of exercise improves your endurance, muscle strength and flexibility which can help reduce your chance of a fall or of sustaining a fall-related injury.

The benefits of practicing different types of exercises include:

  • Faster reaction times which can help you keep yourself upright if you start to fall.
  • Improved coordination which can directly help prevent falls but can also help you roll rather than crash if you should fall.
  • More muscle which can keep you upright, but also buffer the impact of a fall, providing some protection to bones and joints.
  • Stronger bones which are more resistant to fractures.
  • Better brain function. Regular exercise helps maintain your brain. Clearer thinking may help you avoid situations that increase fall risk.

You can do balance exercises as often as you'd like, even every day. Adding in two days a week of strength training helps improve your balance by working the muscles that keep you stable.

One exercise that focuses on both balance and strength is the Sit-to-Stand:

  • Stand with your back facing a sturdy chair and your feet hip-width apart.
  • Sit back and slowly lower your hips onto the chair as gently as possible.
  • Pause, and without swinging your torso, push through your heels to stand up.
  • Perform 10 repetitions.

You can visit to find more exercises and falls prevention tips.

April 2019: Tai Chi

What is Tai Chi and how can it help me?

Tai Chi helps prevent falls

Balance and strength are two key elements in preventing a fall. Exercise helps build both balance and strength, but what kind of exercise should you be doing?

Tai Chi is one form of exercise that experts recommend for any age group. It involves a series of whole-body movements, which are performed in a slow, focused manner combined with controlled breathing. It is a low impact exercise that puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it suitable for anyone. It helps improve balance by targeting all the physical components needed to stay upright—leg strength, flexibility, range of motion and reflexes—all of which tend to decline with age.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that as an aerobic workout, tai chi is roughly the equivalent of a brisk walk, depending on your intensity as you perform it.

You do not need special equipment and you can do it indoors or outdoors, either alone or with a group. Best of all, it requires only about 20 minutes a day.

Studies have shown that Tai Chi:

  • Improves balance and stability by strengthening ankles and knees;
  • Improves lower body and leg strength;
  • Relieves physical effects of stress;
  • Promotes deep breathing;
  • Reduces bone loss in menopausal women;
  • Helps with arthritis pain; and
  • Reduces blood pressure.

You can find a list of Tai Chi instructors here.

March 2019: Kitchen Safety

Make your kitchen a falls free zone

Make your Kitchen a Falls-Free Zone

The kitchen is the heart of the home. Hanging out, relaxing and cooking for yourself or loved ones is something that people of all ages like to do, especially older adults who have a background or passion for cooking. However, as we get older, a kitchen that used to meet our needs may need some adjustments to ensure we can safely continue cooking and enjoying meals.

A few simple changes can help make your kitchen a safe place:

  • Make it easy: Make sure all cabinets and drawers are easy to open and close.
  • Step up safely: Invest in a sturdy step stool with a hand rail to access out-of-reach items. Never climb on a chair, table or stool not designed for climbing.
  • Take a seat: Have a stool or chair in the kitchen for resting while you cook to prevent fatigue or loss of balance.
  • Add a mat: Add non-slip mats with beveled edges to areas that might become wet, such as in front of the sink and the dishwasher.
  • Use smaller containers: Divide products from large containers into smaller and lighter containers that are easier to handle than heavy bags, boxes or jars.
  • Keep it tidy: Wipe up spills immediately. A wet floor is a slippery floor, and dry goods like sugar and flour can be as slippery as ice.

February 2019: Fear of falling

You may be afraid of falling if...

You may be afraid of falling if...

Do you “furniture surf” as you move through your home – running your hands along the backs of chairs or sofas, or along walls, to steady yourself? Do you avoid going to events or socializing with friends because you feel unsteady on your feet? Do you prefer to sit and watch television because moving around makes you nervous? You may be afraid of falling.

People who fall (or nearly fall) may become less active or stop doing activities they enjoy, thinking that will keep them safe from falls. While being aware of your falls risk is not a bad thing, limiting yourself because you are afraid of falling actually puts you at higher risk of falling.

Warning signs that you or a loved one may have a fear of falling:

  • You use furniture and walls to support you as you walk around your home and other places.
  • You appear nervous when walking.
  • You take shorter steps and walk more slowly than you did before.
  • You don't keep up with household chores.
  • You avoid leaving home in wet weather.
  • You avoid social activities.

You can reduce your risk of falling - and your fear - by paying attention to the "Three H's:" Your home, your health and your habits.

Home: Most falls happen in the home, so falls prevention begins at home. Start with minor changes, such as keeping walkways and stairs clear of clutter and storing food, dishes and equipment within easy reach in your kitchen.

Health: A healthy body is a steady body. As we age, our bodies change, and those changes sometimes can increase our risk of falling. The good news is they don't have to. Make healthy choices and talk openly and honestly with your health care professionals about your falls risk and any history of falls.

Habits: The things you do every day can affect your likelihood of falling. By adopting safe and healthy habits - and dropping bad ones – you are making decisions that will keep you steady on your feet. You can decide to sit to get dressed instead of standing and trying to balance on one leg when putting on pants, socks or shoes. Or you can decide to ask for help with tasks that you are not comfortable doing or that you feel you can't do safely.

January 2019: Walking in wintry conditions

Walk like a penguin to avoid a winter fall

What could be better than being outside on a crisp, snowy day? Walking around on snowy, icy sidewalks without falling would be much better. Winter can be a lovely time of year, but snow and ice can make getting around challenging. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospital visits, and wintry conditions raise the potential of taking a life-changing tumble.

To stay on your feet, imitate how a penguin walks in snowy conditions. Take smaller, slower steps and keep your weight forward over your front leg. That’s the ‘penguin walk.’ It looks like a waddle and may not be graceful, but it will help reduce your risk of falling.

A few more tips steps to help you reduce the risk of falls on icy surfaces:

  • Take your time. It’s better to be late than to fall rushing to get there.
  • Look at the route ahead of you and pay attention. Being distracted can cause you to miss an obstacle or icy patch.
  • When conditions are icy, walk with a buddy or carry a cell phone.
  • Don’t try to walk in more than an inch of snow.
  • Bundle up, but make sure you can see in all directions and move freely.
  • Wear winter boots that fit well and provide more traction than tennis or dress shoes.
  • Carry a small bag of sand or rock salt in your coat pocket to add traction to an icy sidewalk or path.
  • Check that rubber tips on canes and walkers are in good repair.
  • If you don’t feel safe, ask for help.

More winter falls prevention tips.

Winter 2019: Winter falls prevention

Stay on your feet this winter

One of the biggest risks from wintry weather is falling, particularly among older adults. Icy conditions make it harder to stay on your feet, and the cold may cause us to limit our activity, which can lead to loss of strength and balance. Be ready for another unpredictable Ohio winter:

  • Have an overall winter preparedness plan.
  • Maintain regular physical activity to ensure you have the strength and balance you need to prevent falls. Ask your doctor or physical therapist about easy indoor exercises and seek opportunities to be active.
  • Eat well and drink plenty of water to make sure you have the strength and focus to stay on your feet. Do some light stretching before going outdoors in cold or snowy weather to be more flexible and steady.
  • Coats, gloves, hats and other winter clothing are designed to keep you warm, but items that are bulky, don't fit well or can catch on nearby objects can increase your risk of falling.
  • Wear boots and shoes that fit properly and have soles with good traction. Keep shoes and walking aids (canes, walkers) dry and free of snow, ice, dirt and mud.

8 Ways to Prevent Falls in Snow and Ice

  • Keep sidewalks and stairs outside your home clean of ice and snow. Make sure steps leading into your home have sturdy handrails that can support you if you slip. Carry a small bag or shaker of rock salt, sand or kitty litter in your pocket or purse to sprinkle in front of you for traction on icy paths.
  • When walking on surfaces that may be icy, shorten your stride and walk with feet pointed out slightly and knees gently bent to improve traction and balance. Avoid walking in more than an inch of snow. Snow can hide curbs, uneven surfaces and other tripping hazards.
  • Carry a cell phone and designate someone to call for help if you need it. Let loved ones know when you are leaving the house and when you expect to be back; call them after you return home.
  • Ask your post office, newspaper and garbage collector about service options that might make it safer for you when conditions are bad.
  • Invest in extra lamps, nightlights and exterior lights so that you can always see where you are walking, especially around doorways and stairs. Use the highest-wattage bulbs recommended for your fixtures.
  • Keep space heaters, cords and blankets out of walkways. If you must use throw rugs on cold floors, secure them to the floor with tape.

December 2018: Holiday gifts that can prevent falls

Gifts that keep giving by preventing falls

Gifts that keep giving by preventing falls

It’s that time again – time to give gifts that show how much you care. But what do you give someone who says they have everything they need? Another pair of gloves? Flowers? More candy? How about giving the older adult you love something that’s really useful? How about a gift that will help them avoid a fall?

  • Non-skid slippers: Not only are they practical for fall prevention, they also keep feet warm during cold winter nights. Safer than socks, non-skid slippers can help keep an older adult safe and warm.
  • Winter boots with rubber soles: Investing in a waterproof pair of winter boots with sturdy, non-slip rubber bottoms, can literally be life-saving this winter.
  • A sturdy step stool: Look for large platform steps, slip resistant feet and be sure it has a hand rail for help with balance.
  • A cordless telephone: Having a cordless phone means an older adult can keep it nearby and will not have to rush to answer a call.
  • Welcome mats or trays to absorb moisture from wet boots: A wet floor is a slippery floor. A tray inside an older adult’s door can contain the mess and prevent a possible fall.
  • A promise to shovel snow: Shoveling snow can take a major toll on the body, so giving a loved one the gift of not having to think about it this holiday season is money well-spent.

This year, give a gift that an older adult can not only use, but that will also reduce their risk of a potentially life-changing fall.

November 2018: Falls prevention for caregivers

One of caregivers’ many jobs – preventing falls

November is National Caregiver Month, which recognizes the roles caregivers play to help older loved ones remain safe and independent in their own homes and communities. One of the most important jobs a caregiver can do is to help loved ones understand their risk of falling and help them make the changes that can help prevent falls. But what can a caregiver do when their loved one doesn’t want to think about, much less talk about, falls and how to keep from falling?

A caregiver can:

  • Focus on the fun aspect of getting out and moving and doing things your loved one likes. Offer to exercise with her or do any activity she enjoys or would like to try. Being physically active helps to build balance and strengthen muscles.
  • Help your loved one re-decorate and rearrange his home. With his agreement, you can make simple, inexpensive changes that are attractive, yet still reduce the risk of slipping, tripping or falling. Installing extra lighting to brighten stairs and storing frequently used kitchen items within reach can make a loved one’s life easier, as well as safer.
  • Help your loved one clean and de-clutter her home. Again, with her agreement, you can help her get rid of clutter and move seldom used items to a safe location out the path where she usually walks.

Caregivers must balance between ensuring their loved one is safe and respecting her freedom and right to make decisions for herself. A single fall can change someone’s life significantly. Using the Falls Risk Self-assessment can help loved ones see their health and environment in new ways.

The goal is to work with your loved one to help improve the quality of his or her life. And in the process, you can reduce their risk of falls.

More caregiver tips to prevent falls...

Autumn 2018: Autumn falls prevention

Leaves are supposed to fall, people aren't

Leaves are supposed to fall, people aren't - Autumn tips for falls prevention

After a long, hot summer, autumn is finally here. The days are getting shorter and cooler, and the trees in your neighborhood are taking on new colors. While we expect autumn leaves to fall, we know that people shouldn’t.

Falls are not a normal part of aging, and most falls can be prevented. One in three older Ohioans will fall this year, but that doesn’t have to be the case. As Summer turns to Fall, here are some changes you can make to your home, health and habits to lower your risk for a potentially life-changing fall:

  • Shorter days means less daylight during the morning and evening hours. Make sure you have plenty of lighting in your home so you can see obstacles in your way. Use the maximum wattage bulbs in your light fixtures and consider night lights for hallways.
  • Avoid walking on leaves and other tree debris in walkways. Even the slightest moisture can make these things very slippery, and debris can hide tripping hazards beneath.
  • As the temperature drops, bundle up to stay warm, but make sure you can see in all directions and move easily and freely.
  • Keep shoes and walking aids (canes, walkers) free of dirt and mud. Dry them off immediately upon coming in from wet conditions. Remember, wet shoes are just as dangerous as wet floors.
  • Ask your doctor or physical therapist about indoor exercises that can help you maintain strength and balance when you can’t venture out.

September 2018: Discussing falls with loved ones

Let's talk about falls prevention

Talking with Older Loved Ones About Falls Prevention

September is Falls Prevention Awareness Month, which makes it the perfect time to talk with your older loved ones about falls and the many things they can do to reduce their risk and prevent them.

A single fall can change a loved one’s life significantly and make her less independent and more reliant on others. You want to help, but find she doesn’t want to talk about the subject. Falls also affect family members and others, so you need to find a balance between ensuring your loved one’s safety and respecting her right to make her own decisions.

Bring the topic up frequently and be persistent, but respectful. If she says she doesn't want to talk about it, that's OK. Let it go for the time being, but bring the topic up again, soon.

Start the conversation by assuring her that falling is not a normal part of aging. While many age-related factors increase risk, most falls can be prevented. Share stories of others you know who have fallen and ask open-ended questions like: "What could he have done to prevent that fall?"

Talk to your loved one about remaining healthy and active. That includes eating nutritious meals and drinking plenty of non-alcoholic fluids, along with physical activity to maintain strength, flexibility and balance. Find activities you enjoy together and volunteer to exercise with your loved one.

Look around your loved one’s home for common falls risks and talk about how to remove them. Look for rugs and poorly lit areas first. Rearrange kitchens, bathrooms and closets to minimize bending and stretching. Encourage the use of canes or walkers and make sure they are adjusted properly. Discuss more substantial changes, like adding grab bars to the bathroom, second railings to stairs and extra lighting.

More tips for talking with loved ones about falls prevention...

July-August 2018: Fairs, festivals, and falls

Ohio’s festivals and destinations can be fun tools to help you prevent falls

Ohio’s festivals and destinations can be fun tools to help you prevent fallsFrom bratwurst, to sweet corn, to folk music, to antique farm machinery, Ohio has a festival to celebrate each of these and more. Along with the state’s world-class zoos and amusement parks, local fairs and festivals are fun getaways and great places to get some exercise, which is important to help prevent falls in your day-to-day life.

But outdoor events and attractions do present some unique falls risks:

  • Uneven walkways - As much as possible, stick to paved surfaces and sidewalks. If you must walk in grass or gravel, watch the ground closely with your eyes, but keep your head up and face forward. Consider using a cane or walking stick for off-road walking.
  • Obstacles in walkways - Trash, hoses and cables in walkways can cause you to slip or trip. Watch where you are walking and do not step on or over items in your path.
  • People - Heavy crowds can affect the way you walk and cause you to more easily trip or be knocked over. Consider attending events and attractions during off-peak times, such as early in the day and on weekdays, to avoid large crowds.
  • The elements - Dehydration and exhaustion can make you unsteady on your feet before you realize you feel tired or thirsty. Take frequent breaks to sit down and rest. Drink plenty of non-alcoholic liquids to stay hydrated.

You can also ensure you stay on your feet and have a great time with a little advanced planning.

  • Check the event or venue website for advice on avoiding crowds and long lines, as well as maps, parking information and other tools to plan your visit.
  • Most venues welcome guests with wheelchairs and motorized mobility scooters and may offer on-site rentals. Call ahead to check cost and availability.
  • Bring any necessary medications with you in a sealed, waterproof container.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and light-colored, lightweight, all-cotton clothing.
  • Wear sunglasses with UV protection and consider a hat with a brim to minimize glare.

Plan to join us at the Ohio State Fair on Senior Day, July 31, 2018, for the “Well Beyond 60!” EXPO. Take advantage of more than a dozen free health screenings and services, including computerized balance testing.

Related links:

Heat-related illness and older adults
Find your next destination with Ohio Tourism

June 2018: Exercises to prevent falls

Exercise could be your best bet to reduce your risk of falling

Exercise programs focused on strength and resistance training, as well as balance and gait, help reduce the risk of fallsThe U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) updated its recommendations on the best ways to prevent falls in older adults. The strongest finding indicates that exercise programs focused on strength and resistance training, as well as balance and gait, help reduce the risk of falls. Checking someone’s medications, vision and home environment also is effective, but the real key to staying on your feet is continued exercise.

Any type of exercise helps, from lifting your legs while you watch TV and marching in place, to walking, to exercise programs like yoga and tai chi. Here are a few examples to try.

  • Foot Taps - Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart in front of a step (the bottom step of a staircase will work) or low piece of furniture. If needed, hold onto the wall or a sturdy piece of furniture for balance. Slowly raise one foot to tap the step in front of you, and then return it to the floor. Perform 15 to 20 taps, then repeat on the opposite leg. As you get stronger, perform the move without holding onto anything.
  • Head Rotations - Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. If needed, hold onto the wall or a sturdy piece of furniture for balance. Slowly move your head from side to side then up and down while keep your body as still as possible. Do this for 30 seconds, then repeat. If you get dizzy, pause and move your head more slowly. If you’re still dizzy, stop. As you get stronger, perform the move without holding onto anything.
  • Standing Marches - Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. If needed, hold onto the wall or a sturdy piece of furniture for balance. From here, lift one knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor (or as close to parallel as you can go) while you keep your torso straight and avoid any leaning. Pause, then slowly return your foot to the floor. Perform 20 marches, alternating between legs with each march. As you get stronger, perform the move without holding onto anything.
  • Sit-To-Stands - Stand tall with your back facing a sturdy chair and your feet hip-width apart. If you need to, hold onto the wall or a sturdy piece of furniture for balance. Sit back and slowly lower your hips onto the chair as gently as possible. Without swinging your torso, push through your heels to stand up. Perform 10 times. As you get stronger, perform the move without holding onto anything.

The USPSTF also found that taking vitamin D does not prevent falls. While it may not prevent a fall, it is still vital for strong bones and muscles. Eating fish, fortified milk, yogurt and egg yolks will add vitamin D to your diet. Sunlight actually helps your body produce vitamin D. Just 13-16 minutes a day in sunlight will produce benefits. Talk to your doctor about how you can increase your vitamin D level.

A Matter of Balance, available through your area agency on aging, is a program that helps reduce the fear of falling and increase activity levels among older adults. Participants learn about the importance of exercise in preventing falls; practice exercises to improve strength, coordination and balance; see how to conduct a home safety evaluation; and gain strategies to get up and down safely. Participants engage in 25 minutes of exercise at the start of each class.

May 2018: Falls risk self-assessment

The best way to prevent a fall? Know your risk of falling

Falls Risk Self-Assessment

Falling is not a normal part of aging, and most falls can be prevented. But you can’t prevent a fall unless you recognize that there is a risk. Do any of the following statements applies to you or a loved one?

  • I have fallen in the past year.*
  • I use or have been advised to use a cane or walker to get around safely.*
  • Sometimes I feel unsteady when I am walking.
  • I steady myself by holding onto furniture when walking at home.
  • I am worried about falling.
  • I need to push with my hands to stand up from a chair.
  • I have some trouble stepping up onto a curb.
  • I often have to rush to the toilet.
  • I have lost some feeling in my feet.
  • I take medicine that sometimes makes me feel light-headed or tired.
  • I take medicine to help me sleep or improve my mood.
  • I often feel sad or depressed.

Give yourself one point for each statement you answered with “yes.” (Add two points for items marked with “*.” If you scored four points or more, you may be at increased risk for falls. Talk to your health care provider and ask for a comprehensive falls risk assessment. Be prepared to talk about your history of falls, your medications and your physical activity level.

You can also take an interactive version of this assessment, with results you can print and take to your doctor.

Once you know what is putting you at risk for a fall, your next step is to do whatever you need to do help prevent a fall. Visit for tips and resources.

Spring 2018: Spring falls prevention

Keep the Spring in Your Step and Avoid Weather Related Falls

Keep the "Spring" in your step

After a long, hard winter, Spring is finally here. We can get out and enjoy the outdoors and get some much-needed exercise. However, severe spring weather and other conditions can increase your risk of falling:

  • Rain and mud – Mud can be as slippery as snow and ice and can get on a variety of surfaces indoors and out. Avoid walkways that are covered with mud. Clean wet and dried mud off of your shoes and walking aids to maintain the most traction.
  • Storms – Spring storms can cause a variety of tripping hazards from power outages to debris in outdoor walkways. If you can’t see the path before you, find another way.
  • Flooding – Never walk or drive into flood waters! Still water can make you trip and moving water can knock you off your feet.
  • Increased activity –Ask your doctor or physical therapist about strategies to safely increase your activity level.

Falls are not a normal part of aging, but as we age, we may be more susceptible to serious injury from a fall. One in three Ohioans age 65 and older will fall this year, and that rate goes up to one in two after age 79.

Fortunately, most falls can be prevented when you understand your risks and take steps to remove or avoid hazards.

March 2018: Medications and falls

A Prescription to Prevent Falls

Prescription to Prevent Falls

STEADY U Ohio thanks Ruth Emptage, PharmD, BCGP, The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy, Ohio Pharmacists Association for contributing this article.

Medications are one of the best ways to treat chronic conditions and other health issues. Unfortunately, they can sometimes cause side effects, such as putting a person at risk for falls. There are five key ways to minimize your risk of falls from medications.

  1. Review your complete list of medications with your pharmacist or doctor to look for those that may increase your risk for falls.
  2. Include non-prescription medications (e.g., over-the-counter medicines, herbal supplements, natural products) on the list you share with your doctor and pharmacist.
  3. Discuss the risk-versus-benefit of any medications that could increase your risk for falls.
  4. Work with your doctor to decrease the dose, stop the medication, or switch it to a better alternative. Do not stop a medication without talking to your doctor.
  5. When discussing a new medication with your doctor, ask if it can increase the risk for falls and what alternate medications could be used.

Medications that affect the brain, blood pressure and blood sugar are the most likely to contribute to increased risk for falls. Medications for sleep or anxiety, referred to as "psychoactive" medicines, can contribute to an increased risk of falls. Non-prescription medications which have PM in the name contain a medication called diphenhydramine (brand name Benadryl) are also known to increase fall risk. Reduce your falls risk by talking to your pharmacist!

February 2018: Don't fall for me, Valentine

This Valentine’s Day, tell your loved one: “Don’t fall for me!”

Don't fall for me, Valentine!

Love is in the air, but hidden falls risks may be underfoot for someone you love. You could celebrate this time of love and devotion with just flowers or a box of chocolates. Or you could help the people you care about most prevent falls and fall-related injuries. Valentine’s day provides a great opportunity to talk about falls prevention in a fun way, while showing how deeply you care.

The STEADY U Ohio initiative suggests discussing these falls risk factors with older loved ones:

  • Fear of falling – Being afraid of falling can cause your loved ones to change their behavior in ways that actually increase their risk of falling.
  • Chronic conditions – Medications for chronic conditions common in older adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and pain, can make them dizzy or drowsy.
  • Nutrition – If your loved ones aren’t eating a balanced diet rich in vital nutrients, they may not have the strength they need to stay on their feet or avoid injury if they do fall.
  • Hydration – If your loved ones aren’t getting enough non-alcoholic liquids to drink, they may experience dizziness and instability.
  • Assistive devices – Canes and walkers can help some older adults significantly reduce their risk for falling, but only if properly adjusted and used appropriately.
  • Environmental hazards – Inadequate lighting, clutter, rugs, pets and floors in need of repair are some of the most common fall risks in the home.

Visit for more tips and resources to prevent falls.