COLUMBUS - Each Ohioan has the power to stay safe and remain a vital member of society by taking steps to prevent falls and fall-related injuries. May is Older Americans Month, and the 2014 theme for Ohio is "Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow." The Ohio Department of Aging encourages all Ohioans to use the month to gain awareness of the impact of falls on our elders and learn about the state's falls prevention initiative, STEADY U Ohio.
"Ohio is home to more than 2.3 million 'Golden Buckeyes,' who want and deserve the chance to continue to grow, thrive and contribute to their communities," said Bonnie K. Burman, Sc.D, director of the department. "Falls and fall-related injuries pose a threat to independence and vitality, and while the risk of falls increases with age, falls are not a normal part of aging, and most can be prevented."
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.
Most of all, learn to not be afraid of falling. A fear of falling can cause you to make decisions and changes in your behavior that actually increase your risk.
STEADY U Ohio is the state's comprehensive falls prevention initiative led by the Ohio Department of Aging and supported by Ohio government and state business partners. STEADY U partners are working to strengthen existing falls prevention activities, identify new opportunities and raise awareness of falls prevention strategies and resources. Visit www.steadyu.ohio.gov to take a falls risk self-assessment, find easy steps to prevent falls, and learn about A Matter of Balance, a free, community-based education program to help participants see falls as something they can control.
By taking steps to stay safe today, you can ensure that you remain healthy and independent tomorrow.
About ODA - The Ohio Department of Aging works to ensure that Ohio is on the leading edge of innovation in responding to the growing and changing aging population. We work with state agencies, area agencies on aging and other local partners to help integrate aging needs into local plans and ensure that aging Ohioans have access to a wide array of high-quality services and supports that are person-centered in policy and practice. Our programs include the PASSPORT Medicaid waiver, the long-term care ombudsman program, the Golden Buckeye Card and more. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov.
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