Public health and aging experts from around the nation will gather in Des Moines Thursday, June 21 for the Iowa Falls Prevention Summit. With support from the Iowa Advisory Council for Brain Injuries, the daylong event will focus on federal, state and local strategies for preventing falls among older Iowans, and will highlight successful community-based programs.
“Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injury and death in Iowa adults age 65 and older,” said Iowa Department of Public Health Director, Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks. “Across all age groups, slipping or tripping falls are the most common type.” The cost of hospitalization care in Iowa for falls is approximately $92 million annually and the total charges for emergency visits in Iowa due to falls are approximately $35 million per year.
“When older adults fall, it often leads to a loss of independence, and reduced mobility,” said Iowa Department on Aging (IDA) Director Donna Harvey. “Research indicates that fall prevention programs for high-risk older adults have a net-cost savings of almost $9 in benefits to society for each $1 invested. Through appropriate risk management, falls are preventable.”
Screening older adults for fall risk during routine medical exams is a way health care providers can help educate older patients about safety. There are also personal actions older Iowans can take:
- 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.
For more information about falls prevention, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/FallsPrevention. For information about the Iowa Healthy Links falls prevention program, Matter of Balance, visit www.iowahealthylinks.org/about.html.