COLUMBUS - As holiday shopping season gets into full swing, the STEADY U Ohio initiative reminds Ohioans that there are things they can do to prevent falls during the hustle and bustle of bargain hunting. Older adults are at increased risk for falls and fall-related injuries, and the chances of a fall go up when we are rushing around or distracted by crowds and sales. The Ohio Council of Retail Merchants and the Golden Buckeye Program have partnered with STEADY U Ohio, an initiative of the Ohio Department of Aging, to provide these tips for shoppers to prevent falls:
- Shop at off-peak times to avoid crowds and long waits. Bring someone with you who can wait in line for you while you sit and rest.
- Report slipping hazards, such as spills, loose rugs or mats, and unsafe sidewalks or stairs to store staff immediately.
- Avoid walking around items blocking aisles or displays that block your view of other shoppers and obstacles. Tell store staff that you think these are hazardous.
- Ask store staff for help carrying heavy or bulky packages or bags to your vehicle. Avoid carrying large, low-hanging bags that can trip you.
- If you use your cane or walker, always shop with it or take advantage of the mobility scooters many stores provide if you could be on your feet for longer than you usually find comfortable.
- Tell store staff if you see anybody behaving in an unsafe manner.
- If you fall, even if you're not hurt, notify store staff and management right away so that they can document the incident and take steps to prevent future accidents.
"Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalization and death among Ohioans age 65 and older," said Bonnie K. Burman, Sc.D., director of the Ohio Department of Aging, which operates STEADY U and Golden Buckeye. "However, falls are not a normal part of aging, and most falls can be prevented. Knowing your surroundings and your abilities are important to ensure a falls-free holiday season."
"Creating falls-free zones in Ohio's retail establishments can be achieved largely through staff and customer education," added Lora L. Miller, director of governmental affairs for the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants. "We have partnered with STEADY U because we know that every retailer in Ohio wants to create a safe and pleasant environment and shopping experience for their customers and staff. When staff or customers fall in your business, it doesn't just hurt them, it also hurts your reputation and your bottom line."
In addition to tips for individuals and families to prevent falls, the STEADY U Ohio website (www.steadyu.ohio.gov) features a section specifically for businesses with tips and resources designed to help them create a culture of falls prevention among their staff and customers.
Things retailers can do to prevent falls for staff and customers include:
- Create a falls prevention policy and make sure your employees know and understand it.
- Identify issues with flooring, stairs, lighting and housekeeping that could cause accidents.
- Have staff regularly monitor aisles for items that have fallen off shelves and are blocking.
- Provide seating around your business, particularly in areas where customers may have to wait during busy times.
- When it's snowy or icy, extend sales or offer shopping options for older customers.
- Empower staff to offer assistance to customers who appear to be having trouble getting around.
Follow STEADY U Ohio on Facebook and Twitter for daily tips, news and resources to help prevent falls year-round.
About the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants - The Ohio Council of Retail Merchants has been serving the interests of Ohio's retail and wholesale industries since 1922. Our 5,000-plus members rely on the expertise and passion of the Council leadership to promote and support initiatives that pave a positive path for the state's retail community. Visit www.ocrm.net.
About Golden Buckeye - Established in 1976 and operated by the Ohio Department of Aging, the Golden Buckeye Card Program is open to more than 2 million Ohio residents, and 20,000 businesses statewide participate in it. All Ohioans 60 or older, and as adults 18 through 59 who have disabilities as defined by Social Security, are eligible for a free Golden Buckeye card. Visit www.GoldenBuckeye.com.
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 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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