COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Aging, through its STEADY U Ohio falls prevention initiative, will celebrate Sept. 21-25 as Falls Prevention Awareness Week by encouraging older Ohioans to take 10 BIG Steps to Prevent Falls.

“Falls are a serious concern for older adults. They are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among Ohioans age 65 and older,” said Ursel J. McElroy, director of the department. “Yet, falls are not a normal part of aging and most falls can be prevented. 10 BIG Steps to Prevent Falls aims to give all older Ohioans and their families tools to lower their risk.”

Each day, the department and its falls prevention partners will host a web-based learning opportunity on a different aspect of falls prevention. Each learning opportunity will be paired with a personal challenge or other activity to apply the lessons learned to the individual’s home, health, and habits.

Individuals can learn more about all 10 steps, register for webinars, and download related assessments, plans, and checklists on the STEADY U Ohio web page.

The 10 BIG Steps to Prevent Falls

Monday, Sept. 21: Know your falls risk factors:

Step 1: Learn about the factors that increase your risk of falling and steps to reduce your risk.

Step 2: Complete a falls-risk self-assessment and discuss the results with your family and care providers.

Tuesday, Sept. 22: Exercises to reduce your falls risk:

Step 3: Learn about exercises and other physical activity that can reduce your risk of falling.

Step 4: Create a personal exercise plan and try a new exercise.

Wednesday, Sept. 23: Fall-proof your home:

Step 5: Step 6: Learn how to identify and remove falls risks in and around your home. Complete a home hazard walk-through and checklist.

Thursday, Sept. 24: Eat well to prevent falls:

Step 7: Learn how a healthy diet can help lower your risk of falling.

Step 8: Create a meal plan to prevent falls.

Friday, Sept. 25: Talk with your health-care providers:

Step 9: Learn how to talk to your doctor and other health-care providers about falls.

Step 10: Complete a medication inventory and discuss it with your health-care provider or pharmacist.

Since September 2013, the Ohio Department of Aging’s STEADY U Ohio initiative has helped older adults, families, caregivers, professionals, and community leaders understand and recognize age- related factors that increase the risk of falling and fall-related complications. Individuals and organizations can find falls prevention information and resources at www.steadyu.ohio.gov.

Facts about falls in Ohio

(according to data from the Ohio Department of Health)

• One in four Ohioans age 65 and older will fall this year.

• Older Ohioans account for a disproportionate share of fall-related injuries. While residents age 65 and older make up 17% of our population, they accounted for more than 87% of fatal falls in 2018.

• An older Ohioan falls every minute on average, resulting in an injury every five minutes, an emergency department visit every seven minutes, two hospitalizations each hour, and three deaths each day.

• In 2018, falls among older Ohioans resulted in 78,995 emergency department visits, 19,409 hospitalizations, and 1,309 deaths.

• Falls account for 55.9% of fatal traumatic brain injuries among Ohioans age 65 or older and can lead to depression, loss of mobility, and loss of independence.

• The number of fatal falls among older Ohioans increased 62% from 2007-18.

• The estimated total lifetime medical cost of falls (fatal and non-fatal) is $1.1 billion in Ohio. Add costs related to work loss and the total climbs to $2 billion.

• One in three Ohioans age 65 and older living in the community fall each year. Yet, less than half talk to their doctors about their risks or history of falls.

• In 2018, 61% of falls deaths among adults age 65 and older occurred in the home while 22% occurred in a residential facility, such as a nursing home.

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