The Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Department of Health, and the Ohio Older Adult Falls Prevention Coalition encourage all Ohioans to educate themselves and their loved ones about the risk of falls and fall-related injuries that increases as we age.
“Falls represent a critical public health threat to older adults,” said Ted Wymyslo, M.D., director of the Ohio Department of Health. “An older Ohioan falls every two and a half minutes on average, resulting in two deaths per day, two hospitalizations per hour, and an emergency room visit every eight minutes. These preventable injuries cost Ohioans more than $4.8 billion each year. Yet, falls are not a normal part of aging. This myth must be dispelled so older Ohioans can live independent, productive and healthy lives.”
“Your risk for falling goes down the minute you stop being afraid of falling,” said Bonnie Kantor-Burman, director of the Department of Aging. “Living a full and active life free of the fear of falling begins with knowing where your feet are. Individuals who know what their risk factors are and who take active steps to minimize them are less likely to suffer an injury as the result of a fall.”
Aging and public health agencies and advocates encourage all Ohioans to “Know Where Your Feet Are” and follow five easy steps to prevent falls:
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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 to learn about available trainings and resources designed to reduce the risk of falls or go to: http://bit.ly/NoFallsOhio.
Call toll-free 1-866-243-5678 to be connected to the area agency on aging serving your community.
More information on local health departments can be found on the ODH website at www.odh.ohio.gov.