October 3, 2013
Did you know that 30 percent of adults age 65 and older living in the community fall each year?
Did you know that an older Ohioan falls every two minutes and sustains a fall-related injury every five minutes, resulting in two hospitalizations each hour, an emergency room visit every eight minutes and three deaths each day?
Did you know that falls and fall-related injuries cost Ohio more than $4.2 billion each year?
Did you know that falling is not a natural part of aging, and most falls can be prevented?
Falls are an epidemic among older adults and are the number one cause of injuries leading to emergency visits, hospital stays and deaths in Ohioans age 65-plus. While residents age 65-plus make up 13.7 percent of our population, they account for more than 80 percent of fatal falls. According to the Ohio Department of Health, the direct treatment charges alone for fall-related hospitalizations among older Ohioans in 2009 was estimated at $645 million. Add this to other medical costs, missed work for individuals and their caregivers, and lost productivity for employers, falls among older adults have an incalculable impact on all aspects of life in Ohio.
“STEADY U Ohio” is a statewide collaborative falls prevention initiative that was recently launched and supported by Ohio government and state business partners to ensure that every county, every community and every Ohioan knows how they can prevent falls, one step at a time. STEADY U Ohio’s website (www.steadyu.ohio.gov) is the source in Ohio for falls prevention information, tools and other resources. The Area Agency on Aging District 7, Inc. (AAA7) joins with the Ohio Department of Aging and the STEADY U Ohio initiative to encourage individuals to educate themselves and their loved ones about the risk of falls and fall-related injury that increases as we age. The AAA7 covers Adams, Brown, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton Counties.
Part of the STEADY U Ohio initiative is expanding access to “A Matter of Balance,” an award-winning program designed to help individuals manage falls risks and increase activity levels. The initiative is working with community partners to make A Matter of Balance available in all 88 Ohio counties. Locally, the Area Agency on Aging District 7 offers “A Matter of Balance” in a number of counties with community coaches available in the area to teach the class. If you are interested in learning more about this class as a participant or serving as a community coach, please call the AAA7 at 1-800-582-7277 and ask for extension 215.
“Falls among older Ohioans can negatively affect an individual’s health and sense of security, but can also have an impact on the entire family,” says Pamela K. Matura, Executive Director of the AAA7. “STEADY U Ohio is an important initiative to help bring falls prevention to the forefront of planning for individuals, families, healthcare providers, business and community leaders, and all Ohioans.”
Five easy things you can do to prevent falls are:
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.
Your local Area Agency on Aging District 7, Inc. provides services on a non-discriminatory basis. These services are available to help older adults and those with disabilities live safely and independently in their own homes through services paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, other federal and state resources, as well as private pay. The AAA7’s Resource Center is also available to anyone in the community looking for information or assistance with long-term care options. Available Monday through Friday from 8:00 am until 4:30 pm, the Resource Center is a valuable contact for learning more about options and what programs and services are available for assistance.
Those interested in learning more can call toll-free at 1-800-582-7277 (TTY: 711). Here, individuals can speak directly with a nurse or social worker who will assist them with information surrounding the programs and services that are available to best serve their needs. The Agency also offers an in-home assessment at no cost for those who are interested in learning more. Information is also available on www.aaa7.org, or the Agency can be contacted through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Agency also has a Facebook page located at www.facebook.com/AreaAgencyOnAgingDistrict7.