The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Bureau of Emergency Services’ Trauma System Advisory Council; IDPH Office of Injury, Disability and Violence Prevention; and Iowa Department on Aging (IDA) join the Iowa Falls Prevention Coalition in recognizing Active Aging Week September 22 through 28 and Falls Prevention Awareness Day on Monday, September 23. “Iowa averages 2,000 fall-related deaths each year,” said IDPH Director, Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks. “Among Iowa’s older citizens, falls are the leading cause of hospitalization and death - yet falls can be prevented.”
As part of the events September 23rd, Governor Branstad will sign a formal proclamation recognizing Falls Prevention Awareness Day; in addition, a Tai Chi demonstration will be presented on the Terrace of the State Capitol. “Strength and balance improvement has been shown to reduce the fall risk among older adults,” said IDA Director Donna Harvey. “Tai Chi is an excellent low-impact activity that older adults can include as part of their overall fitness plan to build balance and to help lessen their chances of falling.”
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:
- 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.
- Remove tripping hazards like throw rugs and clutter in walkways.
Falls Prevention Awareness Day events are scheduled at the State Capitol from 10:30 a.m. until noon September 23. For more information about falls prevention, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/FallPrevention/. For more resources for older Iowans and/or disabled adults, visit www.iowaaging.gov.