For Release: Sept. 14, 2018 – Jamie Dukes, Office of Communications - (405) 271-5601
One day every year across the country, thousands of educators, caregivers, health and aging professionals, and older adults focus their efforts on one goal: preventing falls. That’s why the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is partnering with the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the Falls Free® Coalition to celebrate Falls Prevention Awareness Day, Saturday, Sept. 22.
Nationally, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among adults 65 years and older. Every 20 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall in the United States. Every week in Oklahoma, approximately 124 older adults are hospitalized and 10 die from a fall. Acute care hospital charges total more than $250 million a year.
Falls are a threat to the health of older adults and can reduce their ability to remain independent. Most falls happen in predictable, preventable ways. The OSDH offers some of the following tips to help prevent falls:
Exercise regularly. Exercises designed to improve strength, balance and coordination are the most helpful in lowering the risk of fall related injuries.
Speak up. Talk to your doctor about fall risks and prevention.
Ask a doctor or pharmacist to review both prescription and over the counter medications to monitor side effects and interactions. The effect medications have on the body can change with age. Some medications or combinations of medications can contribute to drowsiness or dizziness, which may increase the risk of falling.
Have vision screenings at least once a year. The wrong prescription eyeglasses or health conditions, such as glaucoma or cataracts, limit vision and may increase the risk of falling.
Reduce hazards in the home that may lead to fall related injuries. Keep floors clean and clear of clutter where people walk.Maintain adequate lighting throughout the home, especially near stairways. Remove throw rugs or use non skid throw rugs in the home, and use non slip mats in the bathtub or shower. Install handrails on stairways and grab bars in bathrooms. Keep items needed for regular use in easy to reach places that don’t require the use of a step stool.
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.