September 22 not only marks the start of the fall season, it is also National Falls Prevention Awareness Day. Throughout the month, the STEADY U Ohio initiative and its partner organizations are drawing attention to the epidemic of falls among older adults, with a simple message: Most falls can be prevented!
An older Ohioan falls every two minutes on average, resulting in an injury every five minutes, six emergency department visits and one hospitalization each hour, and three deaths each day. The number of fatal falls among older Ohioans has increased more than 167 percent since 2000.
Some mistakenly believe that falls are a normal part of the aging process. It is true that our risk for falls increases as we age due mainly to body changes. But there are many things we can do to keep those changes in check or compensate for them.
- Simply walking at least 15 minutes a day can build muscle strength and improve balance.
- Programs like tai chi and “A Matter of Balance” can give you tools to build balance, strength and flexibility.
- Talk to your health care provider and ask for a falls risk assessment. Discuss your medications and history of falls.
- Get your vision and hearing checked annually.
- Drink plenty of fluids and eat a well-balanced diet.
You can participate in “10 Million Steps to Prevent Falls” by walking at least one mile this month to help raise awareness of falls prevention. Consider participating in one of three ways:
- Any time in September, take a one-mile walk and post a selfie to social media using the hashtags #PreventFalls and #10MStepsOH. Posts will be counted toward the state’s goal.
- Participate in a “10 Million Steps” group event in your community. Dozens of community organizations have partnered with STEADY U Ohio to sponsor local walking events with information and resources to help you and your loved ones prevent falls. Visit http://aging.ohio.gov/steadyu/ for the list of events.
- Organize co-workers, club members, sports teams, classrooms, neighbors, congregation members or other groups to host your own “10 Million Steps” group walk. Register your group or event at http://aging.ohio.gov/steadyu/.
Visit http://aging.ohio.gov/steadyu/ and follow along on Facebook and Twitter all month long for tips and resources to help you prevent falls.