COLUMBUS — One in three Ohioans over age 60 will fall this year, and for many of them, that fall could lead to a life-changing injury or even death. However, falls are not a normal part of aging, and most falls can be prevented. To celebrate National Falls Prevention Awareness Day and to raise awareness of the many ways older Ohioans can minimize their risks, the STEADY U Ohio initiative is asking all Ohioans to help take “10 Million Steps to Prevent Falls” on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017.
“You probably know someone who has fallen, or maybe have a falls story of your own,” said Stephanie M. Loucka, director of the Ohio Department of Aging, which operates the STEADY U Ohio initiative. “A single fall can change the life not only of the person who falls, but also their family members, friends and neighbors. Join us to help ensure your loved ones and elders around the state remain safe, independent and able to contribute to their communities for as long as possible.”
Held statewide on Sept. 22 and throughout the month, “10 Million Steps to Prevent Falls” asks Ohioans to walk at least one mile to help raise awareness of falls prevention. You can participate 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 www.steadyu.ohio.gov 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 www.steadyu.ohio.gov.
Last year, more than 3,500 Ohioans walked approximately 6,800 miles statewide, smashing the state’s goal of 4,000 participants. At an average of 2,500 steps per mile, that’s more than 17 million steps taken in the name of falls prevention last year. The department and STEADY U Ohio hopes to surpass that goal again this year.
Falls among older Ohioans have reached epidemic proportions; one in three older adults will fall this year, and falls are the leading cause of emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths among our elders. The good news is that falls are not a normal part of aging, and most falls can be prevented.
Regular physical activity, such as walking 15-30 minutes a day, is one of the most basic things you can do to reduce your risk of falling because it strengthens muscles, improves balance and flexibility, and increases stamina. Further, when we walk together, we make valuable social connections that can be very important as we age.
Basic things older adults can do to lower their risk of falls:
Engage in 15-30 minutes of simple exercise like walking or swimming every day.
Talk to your doctor about falls and your risk at every visit; talk about any recent falls.
Review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist for combinations that may increase your risk.
Get your hearing and vision checked at least annually; use eyeglasses and hearing aids as prescribed.
Stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet.
Examine your home for common slipping and tripping hazards and remove them.
Visit www.steadyu.ohio.gov for more falls prevention tips and resources. While there, you can take an online falls risk assessment and learn about community-based falls interventions available around the state.