COLUMBUS — To mark National Falls Prevention Awareness Day on Sept. 23, 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 57 different organizations sponsoring 57 community events. Statewide, more than 4,400 Ohioans walked approximately 5,300 miles. At an average of 2,500 steps per mile, that’s more than 13.2 million steps taken in the name of falls prevention.
“We are absolutely delighted by how many Ohioans took a stand – and took a walk – to help protect their neighbors and loved ones from the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations and deaths among older adults,” said Bonnie K. Burman, director of the Ohio Department of Aging, which operates the STEADY U Ohio initiative. “We want everyone to know that, while older adults are disproportionately affected by falls, falls are not a normal part of aging and most falls can be prevented.”
STEADY U Ohio recruited community organizations around the state to organize local walking events. Events ranged from four or five participants to more than 1,200. Host organizations included local offices on aging, senior centers, health departments, nursing homes and assisted living facilities, hospitals, fitness centers and more. Some organizations partnered together, while others hosted multiple events. Several existing senior-focused events, including the Cleveland Senior Walk and the Toledo Senior Safari, were modified to have a falls prevention focus to participate.
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. Director Burman challenged those who work with or serve individuals who were unable to walk to walk on their behalf. She also challenged Ohioans to count time spent walking their dogs toward the effort, citing that pets are often a contributor to falls around the home.
“One in three older Ohioans will fall this year. For many of them, that fall can be life-altering. We want everyone to recognize that each of us has a role to play in putting an end to the epidemic of falls. As the old song says: ‘United We Stand, Divided We Fall!’” Director Burman 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 at www.steadyu.ohio.gov.
“10 Million Steps to Prevent Falls” Community Partners
This article was submitted by the Ohio Department of Aging.