Preventing falls among Ohio’s elders

Jim Buchy

January 29, 2014

When we are young, we do not often think about our risk of falling or the consequences of a fall. If we fall, we get up knowing that any aches or pains are probably temporary.

But for us elders, a fall can be a life-changing event.

For seniors like me, the effects of a fall can mean the difference between independence and reliance upon others for assistance in the completion of daily activities. Falls are the number one cause of injuries leading to emergency room visits, hospital stays and deaths among Ohioans age 65 and older. It is no exaggeration to call falls among older adults an epidemic.

My message to Ohio’s elders is this: You have the power to reduce your risk of falling. And you have the power to improve your ability to recover if you do fall.

The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that fall risks include advanced age, history of previous falls, muscle weakness, gait and balance problems, poor vision, chronic medical conditions like arthritis, and fear of falling. Others include obstacles and tripping hazards, slippery or uneven surfaces, lack of stair handrails, dim lighting or glare, lack of bathroom grab bars, use of certain medications, and improper use of assistive devices like walkers or canes.

However, falls can be prevented by following some simple, common- sense steps. Some of these steps include 15 minutes of exercise a day, annual vision and hearing checks, and removing fall hazards around your own home. You can view the full list of ten steps at www.steadyu.ohio.gov.

Steady U is part of an effort by Governor Kasich and the Ohio Department of Aging to increase awareness about the hazards of falling. The website is a valuable resource for all of my fellow elders concerned about the risks of falling.

We as elders have the power to reduce our risk of falling. It may require some added diligence in our day-to-day routine, but this extra effort is worth it when weighed against the cost of an unfortunate fall.

Rep. Jim Buchy can be reached by emailing rep84@ohiohouse.gov or calling (614) 446-6344. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.