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Older Adults Have the Power to Prevent a Fall

Fall is just around the corner, but falls shouldn’t be just around the corner for older adults. The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), along with the National Council on Aging (NCOA) is celebrating the ninth annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day on September 22. Ready, Steady, Balance: Prevent Falls 2016 will highlight three goals that all older adults have the power to achieve:

  1. Be ready: Education is the most important step to being ready to prevent a fall. There are resources online to help older adults understand their risk of falling. They can also enroll in evidence-based falls prevention programs to learn how to address their fear of falling and what they can do to sustain their strength.
  2. Be steady: Older adults can be steady if they take simple steps to prevent falls. These include talking with a doctor about medications, getting hearing and vision checkups, and assessing living spaces for hazards.
  3. Be balanced: Falls prevention is a team effort that takes a balance of education, preparation, and community support. Falls Prevention Awareness Day is an opportunity to take a look at the world around us, be aware of falls hazards, and think about how we can make changes that help our parents, grandparents, aging neighbors, and even ourselves from falls.

Nationally, falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms in every age group except 15-24 years. Falls are the leading cause of injury death among adults 65 years and older. Every year in Oklahoma, about 7,000 older adults are hospitalized and more than 450 die from a fall. Acute care hospital charges alone total more than $250 million dollars a year.

The Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance program has been proven to reduce the risk of falls. In Oklahoma, many individuals have been trained as Tai Chi instructors and teach classes around the state to older adults. This exercise program focuses on improving functional abilities such as, balance and physical function to reduce fall-related risks and frequency of falls. Oklahoma seniors are invited to join a local Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance class.

To receive more information on the classes and how to prevent falls, contact the OSDH Injury Prevention Service at (405) 271-3430 or visit http://falls.health.ok.gov.

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