Ohio Dept. of Aging urges: Take 10 BIG Steps to Prevent Falls

Press Staff Writer

        The Ohio Department of Aging has issued a friendly challenge for all older Ohioans: take 10 BIG Steps to Prevent Falls during Fall Prevention Awareness Week, Sept. 21-25.
        “One in four Ohioans over age 65 will fall this year. That fall can have long-ranging impacts on the individual as well as his or her family and community,” said Ursel J. McElroy, director of the department. “There are simple things all Ohioans can do right now to decrease their risk of a life-changing fall.”
        10 BIG Steps to Prevent Falls is part of the department’s STEADY U Ohio falls prevention initiative. The week-long campaign pairs five free, daily, online learning opportunities with five personal action steps to promote different aspects of falls prevention. Each day, participants will learn about a unique topic from falls prevention and other experts. They will then be provided with a checklist, planning template, or other activity to apply the information to their daily lives.
        Individuals can learn more, register for online learning opportunities, and download related personal action items on the STEADY U Ohio web page at www.steadyu.ohio.gov.
        The 10 BIG Steps to Prevent Falls:
        • Monday, Sept. 21: Know your falls risk factors
        Step 1: Learn about the factors that increase your risk of falling and steps to reduce your risk.
        Step 2: Complete a falls-risk self-assessment and discuss the results with your family and care providers.
        • Tuesday, Sept. 22: Exercises to reduce your falls risk.
        Step 3: Learn about exercises and other physical activity that can reduce your risk of falling.
        Step 4: Create a personal exercise plan and try a new exercise.
        • Wednesday, Sept. 23: Fall-proof your home.
        Step 5: Learn how to identify and remove falls risks in and around your home.
        Step 6: Complete a home hazard walk-through and checklist.
        • Thursday, Sept. 24: Eat well to prevent falls
        Step 7: Learn how a healthy diet can help lower your risk of falling.
        Step 8: Create a meal plan to prevent falls.
        • Friday, Sept. 25: Talk with your health care providers
        Step 9: Learn how to talk to your doctor and other health care providers about falls.
        Step 10: Complete a medication inventory and discuss it with your health care provider or pharmacist.
        Since September 2013, the Ohio Department of Aging’s STEADY U Ohio initiative has helped older adults, families, caregivers, professionals, and community leaders understand and recognize age-related factors that increase the risk of falling and fall-related complications. Individuals and organizations can find falls prevention information and resources at www.steadyu.ohio.gov.
        Facts about falls in Ohio (according to data from the Ohio Department of Health):
        • One in four Ohioans age 65 and older will fall this year.
        • Older Ohioans account for a disproportionate share of fall-related injuries. While residents age 65 and older make up 17% of the state’s population, they accounted for more than 87% of fatal falls in 2018.
        • An older Ohioan falls every minute on average, resulting in an injury every five minutes, an emergency department visit every seven minutes, two hospitalizations each hour, and three deaths each day.
        • In 2018, falls among older Ohioans resulted in 78,995 emergency department visits, 19,409 hospitalizations and 1,309 deaths.
        • Falls account for 55.9% of fatal traumatic brain injuries among Ohioans age 65 or older and can lead to depression, loss of mobility, and loss of independence.
        • The number of fatal falls among older Ohioans increased 62% from 2007-2018.
        • The estimated total lifetime medical cost of falls (fatal and non-fatal) is $1.1 billion in Ohio. Add costs related to work loss and the total climbs to $2 billion.
        • One in three Ohioans age 65 and older living in the community fall each year, yet, less than half talk to their doctors about their risks or history of falls.
        • In 2018, 61% of falls deaths among adults age 65 and older occurred in the home while 22% occurred in a residential facility, such as a nursing home.
        The Ohio Department of Aging serves and advocates for the needs of Ohioans age 60 and older, as well as their families, caregivers and communities. Programs include home- and community-based long-term supports and services, as well as initiatives to promote health and wellness throughout the lifespan. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov to learn more.


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