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State Taking A Stand To Prevent Older Adults From Falling
Updated September 23, 2016 7:25 AM
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - Falls can be dangerous, especially for older adults. To help prevent serious injuries due to falls, Indiana is joining forces with the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the Falls Free Coalition to celebrate Falls Prevention Awareness Day on Thursday Sept. 22, a date that coincides with the first day of Fall.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for people age 65 and older. Falls can lead to broken bones and severe head injuries. In 2014, older adults in Indiana had 42,600 fall-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations, resulting in 333 deaths. This year's Falls Prevention Awareness Day theme, "Ready, Steady, Balance: Prevent Falls in 2016," focuses on ways older adults can protect themselves from falling.

"Bones can get more fragile as we age, so it's important to look out for tripping hazards, such as stairs and rugs," said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. "By keeping areas clear of hazards and ensuring that handrails are properly installed where they're needed, we can help prevent potentially serious falls and keep our seniors safe."

Ways to prevent falls include:

  • Increase your physical activity. Exercises like walking or swimming at least 15 minutes a day can help build muscle strength and improve balance, which can prevent falls.
  • See your eye doctor once a year. Age-related eye diseases, such as cataracts, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, can increase the risk of falling. Early detection is critical to minimizing the effects of these conditions.
  • Review your medications. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the medicines you are taking and whether they may cause drowsiness or dizziness.
  • Remove environmental hazards. Search your home for anything that could cause falls, including poor lighting, loose rugs, slippery floors and unsteady furniture. Remove or modify these hazards.
  • Think, plan and slow down. Many falls are caused by hurrying. Slow down and think through the task you are performing.
Each year, 2.5 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries, according to the CDC. Additionally, 250,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures from falls. Indiana is part of the Falls Free Coalition, which includes several states and national organizations, professional associations and federal agencies across the country dedicated to reducing fall-related injuries and deaths among older adults. To learn more, go to http://bit.ly/2cHIPla. Visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.in.gov for important health and safety information, or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN or on Facebook.

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