COLUMBUS - STEADY U Ohio, the statewide falls prevention initiative, and Ohio's Best Rx program, which provides prescription drug savings for more than 1.6 million Ohioans, have partnered to stress the role that proper prescription medication management can play in keeping older Ohioans safe. May is Older Americans Month, with the theme: "Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow." By adopting and maintaining healthy habits, including an open dialogue with your doctor and pharmacist, you can avoid many risk factors that can lead to a fall and injury.
"It is not an exaggeration to call falls among older Ohioans an epidemic. While residents age 65 and older make up 13.7 percent of our population, they account for more than 80 percent of fatal falls," said Bonnie K. Burman, Sc.D., director of the Ohio Department of Aging, which leads the STEADY U Ohio initiative. "The good news is that falls are not a normal part of aging - most falls can be prevented with minor changes to home, health and habits, including increased awareness of the ways that the medicines we take, and how we take them, may increase our risk."
"As a STEADY U Ohio partner, Ohio's Best Rx encourages our Golden Buckeyes and Ohioans of all ages to speak with their doctors and pharmacists to see whether the medicines they take can increase the risk of falling," added Barry Katz, a pharmacist and president of Envision Pharmaceutical Services, which operates the Ohio's Best Rx program. "With Ohio's Best Rx, all of Ohio's seniors have access to affordable medication and top-quality pharmacists, and we hope our residents take advantage of this important program to avoid unnecessary accidents."
An older Ohioan is injured in a fall every five minutes on average, resulting in two hospitalizations each hour, an emergency department visit every 7.5 minutes; and three deaths each day. Some prescription medications can increase your risk of falling because they may cause dizziness, drowsiness, numbness or may have other side effects that affect your balance and perception.
According to the FDA, body changes as we age can affect the way medicines are absorbed and used. These changes include slower digestion, increased body weight, slower circulation and decreased liver and kidney function. These changes increase the risk of drug side effects and interactions for older adults.
To help reduce your risk of falling due to drug interactions or side effects, STEADY U Ohio and Ohio's Best Rx offer these tips:
- Maintain a list of all the drugs you take - Include doses, frequency and prescribing doctor. Also include any over-the-counter medicines (pain relievers, antacids, cold medicines, etc.) or supplements you take. Bring the list with you to doctor's appointments and when you pick up prescriptions.
- Read the label - if it says "may cause dizziness or drowsiness," or cautions against driving, ask about the best time to take it to avoid falls. Also ask about alternative treatments with less hazardous side effects.
- Take your medicine exactly as prescribed. If you find it hard to stick to a medication schedule or if you have trouble telling medicines apart, your doctor may have some ideas to help. Similarly, ask your doctor to write detailed directions on how and when to take your medications.
- Talk to your doctor about changes to your eating habits (such as a low-fat or high-calcium diet), as well as how much caffeine and alcohol you consume, as these can all affect how your medicines work.
- If you have trouble reading warning labels or directions on your medicine containers, your pharmacist may be able to provide the same information in an easier-to-read format.
- Choose over-the-counter medications that only have the ingredients you need. Your pharmacist can help select the best OTC options for your symptoms.
Visit www.steadyu.ohio.gov and follow SteadyUOhio on Facebook and Twitter for more falls prevention tips and resources. Your area agency on aging also can help you connect to services and resources like minor home modifications and "A Matter of Balance" workshops. Call 1-866-243-5678 for the agency serving you.
About STEADY U Ohio - Falls are an epidemic among our elders and are the number one cause of injuries leading to ER visits, hospital stays and deaths in Ohioans age 65-plus. 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.
About Ohio's Best Rx - Ohio's Best Rx, the free, state-endorsed prescription drug discount program, is celebrating its 10th year of improving Ohioans' access to affordable prescription drugs. Ohio's Best Rx has saved Ohio residents more than $83 million on prescription drug costs since inception, and last year alone, saved participants an average of 57 percent on the cost of their medications. The program, which is an included benefit with Ohio's Golden Buckeye Card for residents age 60 and older and other adults with total and permanent disabilities, is also available to all state residents regardless of age or income. Ohio's Best Rx has more than 1.6 million registered users, of which more than 1.4 million are Golden Buckeyes. The program is administered by Envision Pharmaceutical Services, an Ohio-based company. To learn more, visit www.OhioBestRx.org or call 1-866-923-7879.
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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