Falls are an epidemic among our seniors and are the number one cause of injuries leading to ER visits, hospital stays, and deaths in Ohioans age 65+. An older Ohioan is injured in a fall every five minutes on average, resulting in two hospitalizations each hour, an emergency department visit every 7.5 minutes, and three deaths each day. For more statistics, see the Ohio Department of Health's Fall-Related Injury Among Older Adults in Ohio report.
Despite these alarming statistics, older adults CAN take action. Falls are NOT a natural part of the aging process, and most falls can be prevented. While falls are a threat to the health and independence of older adults and can significantly limit their ability to remain self-sufficient, the opportunity to reduce falls among older adults has never been better. Many research studies have shown that through home modifications, individual risk assessments, and participation in regular balance and mobility exercises, older adults can protect themselves against a fall.
Personal Causes/Risk Factors - Muscle strength and balance, nutrition and hydration, vision and hearing, judgement, inactivity, fear of falling
Medical Causes/Risk Factors - Medications and interactions, urinary incontinence, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, diabetes, other conditions such as stroke and Parkinson's Disease
Environmental Causes/Risk Factors - Tripping hazards such as floor rugs, electrical cords, and clutter, insufficient lighting, unsafe stairs, poor design and organization, slippery floors, pets
Schedule a free home safety check through the Union County SLIPS (Seniors Living IndePendently & Safely) Program. Call the Union County Health Department at 937-642-2053 and request a free SLIPS home safety check. A trained staff member will visit your home and identify ways you can make your home safer and reduce your fall risk. Modifications such as the installation of grab bars in the bathroom will be made at no charge to you.
Download the Fall Prevention Home Assessment Checklist to learn what changes you can make to your home to reduce your fall risk.
Assess your individual risk of a fall. Take the Falls Risk Self-Assessment from the Ohio Department of Aging's Steady U campaign. To take the self-assessment, click on the Steady U logo below. Don't forget to print your results and review them with your doctor.
Participate in balance and mobility exercise classes. Weekly exercise classes are offered at the Union County senior centers. Take advantage of the Silver Sneakers program and exercise at the Union County Family YMCA, the Health Center at Memorial Hospital or at Jazzercise Marysville.
Download the Union County Resources to Prevent Falls flyer to learn what programs and classes are available in Union County.
Talk about falls prevention often. Many older adults may be hesitant to talk about falling because they view it as a threat to their independence. Bring the topic up frequently and be persistent. Falling is not a normal part of aging and there are effective ways to prevent falls from happening.
Don't ignore chronic pain. Older adults suffering from chronic pain have a 77% higher risk of falling. Severe pain can cause an individual to resist being active. In addition, pain medications can cause balance issues and dizziness.
Encourage appropriate use of assistive devices such as canes and walkers.
Provide opportunities for appropriate physical activity. Any type of movement helps, from simply marching in place in the kitchen, to walking and swimming, to exercise programs like yoga and tai chi.
For more ways to prevent falls, see the Caregivers Tip Sheet from the Ohio Department of Aging's Steady U campaign.
Join the Union County Older Adult Falls Coalition. The Union County Older Adult Falls Coalition is a collaborative of organizations working to prevent falls among Union County seniors. To find out how you can get involved, contact Elizabeth Warren at email@example.com.
Use the STEADI Tool Kit. Researchers at CDC's Injury Center have created the STEADI Tool Kit expressly for healthcare providers who treat older adults who are at risk of falling or who may have fallen in the past. As a healthcare provider, you are already aware that falls are a serious threat to the health and well-being of your older patients. One out of three people 65+ falls each year, and over two million are treated in emergency departments annually for fall injuries. You play an important role in caring for older adults and you can help reduce these devastating injuries. The STEADI Tool Kit contains resources and tools that will help make fall prevention an integral part of your clinical practice. To access the Tool Kit, click on the STEADI logo below.
The Union County Older Adult Falls Prevention Program is a collaborative effort among many community partners. The program is funded in part by a grant from the Ohio Department of Heatlh. Union County's program received a Model Practice Award from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) in 2015. The NACCHO Model Practice Award recognizes outstanding public health programs.