Falls are not a natural part of aging. Falls are the leading cause of injury death for Iowans age 65 and older, and the leading cause of injury hospitalizations and emergency visits in Iowa. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Iowa Department on Aging (IDA) remind all Iowans that injuries from falls are largely preventable.
"Falls are not a natural part of aging," said Binnie LeHew, IDPH Office of Disability, Injury & Violence Prevention. "The total charges for emergency visits in Iowa due to falls are $35 million per year. Research has shown that making older adults aware of how to prevent falls not only decreases injuries, but also saves dollars."
"By educating older Iowans on preventing falls, we help them remain independent and healthy.
Even a minor fall could lead to bruising or broken bones requiring weeks, if not months, of recovery time," IDA Director Ro Foege stated.
There are ways older Iowans can prevent falls:
Take your time - get out of chairs slowly. Sit for a moment before getting out of bed.
Wear sturdy, well-fitting shoes with low heels and non-slip soles.
See an eye specialist once a year. Poor vision can increase your chances of falling.
Be aware that some medications have side effects that can cause dizziness.
Increase physical activity - regular exercise increases balance and strength.
Follow these tips to make living areas safer and help reduce the risk of falls:
Remove tripping hazards like throw rugs and clutter in walkways.
Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
Have grab bars installed next to the toilet and in the tub or shower.
Have handrails on both sides of stairways.
Improve lighting in the entire home.
For more information on fall prevention, visit: www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/adultfalls.html.
For more information on the Iowa Healthy Links fall-prevention program Matter of Balance visit the Iowa Department on Aging (IDA) website at: http://www.aging.iowa.gov.