Ohio’s Steady U program helps bring awareness to caregivers and aging adults.
Did you know an older Ohioan falls every two minutes and sustains a fall-related injury every five minutes, resulting in two hospitalizations each hour, an emergency room visit every eight minutes and three deaths each day?
Most falls in older adults can be prevented, and so the Ohio Department of Aging is focusing on a statewide collaborative falls prevention initiative called Steady U Ohio. This program helps the community become aware of how to prevent falls, which affect 30 percent of adults 65 and older.
The following are some tips for caregivers to help ensure loved ones are safe, while respecting their independence.
Talk about fall prevention. Assure your loved one that falling is not a normal part of aging. Bring the topic up, being persistent but respectful. If he or she doesn’t want to talk about it, that’s OK, but bring the topic up again soon.
Help loved ones remain active. Find out about local exercise programs for older adults by contacting your local senior center, community action agency or agency on aging.
Be aware of medications and chronic illnesses. Individuals with severe chronic pain are up to 77 percent more likely to fall than those without pain. Pain can cause your loved one to resist activity and exercise. Likewise, some medications can make some people less stable on their feet.
Use of assistive devices. There are many simple and inexpensive changes that can significantly reduce the risk of slipping, tripping and falling. Make loved ones aware of these, such as grab bars installed in restrooms, step stools instead of furniture to stand on, railings on both sides of staircases and automatic turn-on and -off night lights for safe passage.
Promote good nutrition and hydration. A balanced diet with a variety of vegetables and calcium-rich foods promotes overall general health and minimizes the symptoms of some chronic illnesses. Staying properly hydrated prevents low blood pressure, dizziness, fatigue and confusion.
Falls Prevention Awareness Day will be observed Sept. 23 this year, to promote and increase public awareness about how to prevent and reduce falls among older adults. –The National Council on Aging