COLUMBUS – To mark National Falls Prevention Awareness Day on Sept. 22, and to raise awareness of the epidemic of falls among older Ohioans, the STEADY U Ohio initiative asked community organizations and individuals around the state to help take “10 Million Steps to Prevent Falls” throughout September.
Communities responded, with 59 different organizations sponsoring 55 community events. Statewide, more than 3,500 Ohioans walked approximately 6,800 miles. At an average of 2,500 steps per mile, that’s 17 million steps taken in the name of falls prevention.
The Oxford Seniors Master Games was one of the “10 Million Steps to Prevent Falls” Community Partners.
“We are thrilled with the response of our new and existing community partners to help protect their neighbors and loved ones from the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations and deaths among older adults,” said Stephanie M. Loucka, director of the Ohio Department of Aging, which operates the STEADY U Ohio initiative. “In 2014, 30.1 percent of Ohioans reported falling at least once, and more than one in ten sustained a falls-related injury. However, falls are not a normal part of aging and most falls can be prevented.”
STEADY U Ohio, a coordinated, statewide falls prevention campaign, recruited community organizations around the state to organize local walking events involving from a few individuals to hundreds. Host organizations included local offices on aging, senior centers, health departments, nursing homes and assisted living facilities, malls, hospitals, fitness centers, public schools and more. Several of the events included local students ranging from elementary to college age. Individuals were also encouraged to walk on their own and post a selfie of their efforts to social media using the hashtags #PreventFalls and #10MStepsOH.
“For many older adults and their families, a single fall can be life-altering. ’10 Million Steps’ is about helping everyone recognize that each of us has a role to play in putting an end to this epidemic,” Director Loucka added.
Facts about falls and older Ohioans:
• An older Ohioan falls every two minutes. Every five minutes, someone is injured in a fall.
• The number of fatal falls among older Ohioans has increased more than 167 percent since 2000.
• Older adults comprise 14 percent of our population, but account for 83 percent of fatal falls.
• The total cost of falls (medical costs, work loss) is estimated at $1.8 million every day.
Find tips and resources to prevent falls for yourself or a loved one at www.steadyu.ohio.gov.
How you can prevent falls
Decreased muscle mass, vision and hearing decline, medical conditions and joint pain are some of the age-related changes that can increase falls risks. However, minor changes to the three H’s – home, health and habits – can offset these risk factors:
• 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 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.
About STEADY U Ohio –STEADY U Ohio is a comprehensive falls prevention initiative led by Governor John Kasich and the Ohio Department of Aging, and supported by Ohio government and state business partners to strengthen existing falls prevention activities, identify opportunities for new initiatives and coordinate a statewide educational campaign to bring falls prevention to the forefront of planning for individuals, families, health care providers, business and community leaders and all Ohioans. Visit www.steadyu.ohio.gov.