For Release: September 20, 2017 – Cody McDonell, Office of Communications (405) 271-5601
Fall is just around the corner, but falls shouldn’t be just around the corner for older adults. Falls are not a normal part of aging, but they are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in older Americans. The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), along with the National Council on Aging (NCOA), is celebrating the 10th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day on September 22, 2017. The OSDH highlights three goals that all older adults have the power to achieve:
Be ready: Education is the most important step to being ready to prevent a fall. There are resources online to help older adults understand their risk of falling. They can also enroll in evidence-based falls prevention programs to learn how to address their fear of falling and what they can do to sustain their strength.
Be steady: Older adults can be steady if they take simple steps to prevent falls. These include talking with a doctor about medications, getting hearing and vision checkups, and assessing living spaces for hazards.
Be balanced: Falls prevention is a team effort that takes a balance of education, preparation, and community support. Falls Prevention Awareness Day is an opportunity to take a look at the world around us, be aware of falls hazards, and think about how we can make changes that help our parents, grandparents, aging neighbors, and even ourselves from falls.
Every 20 minutes an older adult dies from a fall in the United States. Every year in Oklahoma, approximately 7,000 older adults are hospitalized and more than 450 die from a fall. Hospital charges alone total more than $250 million a year related to falls.
The Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance program has been proven to reduce the risk of falls. In Oklahoma, many individuals have been trained as Tai Chi instructors and teach Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance classes around the state to older adults. This exercise program focuses on improving functional abilities, such as balance and physical function, to reduce fall-related risks and frequency of falls. Oklahoma seniors are invited to join a local Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance class.