During National Safety Month, Ohioans urged to protect yourself and loved ones from falls

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.

STEADY U Ohio offers tips and resources for older adults to prevent falls.”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.

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