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West Side Senior News & Notes

10/4/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

State agencies launch campaign to help older adults reduce risks of falling

COLUMBUS — An autumn campaign to encourage all Ohioans and their loved ones to educate themselves about the risk of falls and fall-related injuries that increase in age kicked off Sept. 22 with Falls Prevention Awareness Day.

Sponsored by the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA), the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the Ohio Older Adult Falls Prevention Coalition, the theme for 2012 is “Know where your feet are!”

“Falls represent a critical public health threat to older adults,” said Dr. Ted Wymyslo, director of the ODH. “An older Ohioan falls every two-and-a-half minutes on average, resulting in two deaths per day, two hospitalizations per hour and an emergency room visit every eight minutes. These preventable injuries cost Ohioans more than $4.8 billion each year. Yet, falls are not a normal part of aging. This myth must be dispelled so older Ohioans can live independent, productive and healthy lives.”

The ODA has released the following five steps to help prevent falls:

• Increase your physical activity. Simple exercise, like walking or swimming at least 15 minutes a day, can help build muscle strength and improve balance, which can prevent falls.

• See your eye doctor once each year. Age-related eye diseases, such as cataracts, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, can increase the risk of falling. Early detection is key to minimizing the effects of these conditions.

• Review your medications. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the medicines you are taking and whether they may cause drowsiness or dizziness. Discuss things you can do to ensure you are taking your medicines safely.

• Remove environmental hazards. Look around the house for anything that could increase the risk of falls, including poor lighting, loose rugs, slippery floors and unsteady furniture. Remove or modify these hazards.

• Think, plan and slow down. Many falls are caused by hurrying. Slow down and think through the task you are performing. Be mindful of possible falls risks and act accordingly.

“Your risk for falling goes down the minute you stop being afraid of falling,” said Bonnie Kantor-Burman, director of the ODA. “Living a full and active life free of the fear of falling begins with knowing where your feet are. Individuals who know what their risks factors are and who take active steps to minimize them are less likely to suffer an injury as the result of a fall.”

People also can contact their Area Agency on Aging or local health department to learn about available trainings and resources designed to reduce the risk of falls or go to: bit.ly/NoFallsOhio.

Area Agency on Aging 10B, which serves Summit County, can be reached at 330-896-9172. For services in Medina County, the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging 10A, can be reached at 216-621-9262.

For the Summit County Health District, call 330-923-4891, and for the Medina County Health Department, call 330-723-9688.

 

Ariel Hakim contributed to this report.

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