Take a walk for falls prevention

Staff report

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 has aksed all Ohioans to take “10 Million Steps to Prevent Falls” on Sept. 22.

“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.”

Scheduled statewide, 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. People 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 locally. Visit www.steadyu.ohio.gov for the list of events.

• Organize coworkers, club members, sports teams, classrooms, neighbors, congregation members or other groups to host a “10 Million Steps” group walk. Register the 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 was 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 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 elders.

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, to take an online falls risk assessment and learn about community-based falls interventions available around the state.

Staff report