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National Falls Prevention Awareness Day on Sept. 22

National Falls Prevention Awareness Day on Sept. 22

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information:

Prevent Blindness
Whitney Anderson

Phone: (614) 464-2020 ext. 105

                             Prevent Blindness Supports National Falls Prevention Awareness Day on Sept. 22

COLUMBUS (Sept. 14, 2017) – Marking the beginning of the Fall  season, the Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness (PBO) and Ohio’s Aging Eye Public Private Partnership are supporting National Falls Prevention Awareness Day on Sept. 22.  The goal is to bring attention to this serious issue which is the leading cause of injury-related hospitalization and death among Ohioans age 65 and older.

An older Ohioan falls every two minutes on the average, resulting in an injury every five minutes, six emergency department visits and one hospitalization each hour, and three deaths each day.  The number of fatal falls among older Ohioans has increased more than 167 percent since 2000.

Unfortunately, those with impaired vision are more likely to experience falls and injuries. According to a 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC), 52% of Ohio adults age 65 or older with severe vision impairment fell at least once in 2014 as compared with 28% of those without severe vision impairment.  Visual impairment, which can include decreased visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, depth perception, and/or visual field, has been found to influence the risk of falls.  Vision impairment can affect balance.  It also increases the risk of tripping or misjudging steps, stairs or curbs.

Based on data from the 2014 “Vision Problems in the U.S.”,1.4 million  Ohioans age 40+ have vision problems that if not corrected or treated could lead to vision loss including age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. Over 170,000 are blind or visually impaired.  Another 2 million Ohioans have myopia or hyperopia that is correctable with a simple pair of eyeglasses, but some do without vision correction due to challenges with cost or transportation for doctor appointments.  The number of Ohio residents with impaired vision, including blindness, could double in the next three decades.

“Our vision helps us stay on our feet in many different ways: vision is a crucial part of balance, and we also need it to spot and avoid slipping and tripping hazards as we age,” said Stephanie M. Loucka, director of the Ohio Department of Aging and co-chair of Ohio’s Aging Eye Public Private Partnership. “The Aging Eye Partnership is a founding partner of the state’s STEADY U Ohio initiative to raise awareness of the epidemic of falls among our elders, and we appreciate the work they do to provide vision resources and information to Ohioans.”

For the third year, the Ohio Department of Aging’s STEADY U Initiative is calling on all Ohioans to help take “10 Million Steps to Prevent Falls.” The goal is to get at least 4,000 Ohioans to walk a mile each in the name of falls prevention. Getting 15-30 minutes of physical activity every day is one of the most basic things you or a loved one can do to reduce your risk of falling. Walking strengthens muscles, improves balance and increases stamina, all of which can make you steadier on your feet. Join STEADY U by walking at least one mile on or around September 22 in the name of falls prevention and post a selfie of your efforts to social media using the hashtags #PreventFalls and #10MStepsOH to be counted.

Some mistakenly believe that falls are a normal part of the aging process. It is true that our risk for falls increases as we age due mainly to body changes. But there are many things we can do to keep those changes in check or compensate for them.

  1. Get a regular, professional eye exam. Poor vision makes it more difficult to move around safely. Age-related eye diseases, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and uncorrected visual acuity, can increase the risk of falling. Early detection is key to minimizing the effects of these conditions.  Wearing contact lenses or glasses with the right prescription is also very important to preventing falls.

  2. Simply walking at least 15 minutes a day can build muscle strength and improve balance.

  3. Programs like tai chi and “A Matter of Balance” can give you tools to build balance, strength and flexibility.

  4. Talk to your health care provider and ask for a falls risk assessment. Discuss your medications and history of falls.

  5. Get your hearing checked annually.

  6. Drink plenty of fluids and eat a well-balanced diet.

“Because people with vision impairments are more than twice as likely to fall as those without, keeping a regular schedule of eye examinations with an eye care professional can help avoid debilitating falls in the future,” said Sherry Williams, President & CEO of the Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness.  “We hope that by alerting the public to the dangers of falls, as well as educating them on ways to avoid them, we can help prevent unnecessary injuries.  And, maintaining healthy vision is one way to accomplish this!”

For more information about National Falls Prevention Awareness Day or general eye health, please contact Prevent Blindness at (800) 301-2020 or visit pbohio.org.

About Prevent Blindness

Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness is the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight. The Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness is Ohio’s leading volunteer nonprofit public health organization dedicated to prevent blindness and preserve sight. We serve all 88 Ohio counties, providing direct services to more than 800,000 Ohioans annually and educating millions of consumers about what they can do to protect and preserve their precious gift of sight. For more information or to make a contribution, call 800-301-2020.  Or, visit us on the web at www.pbohio.org or facebook.com/pbohio and Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/PB_Ohio.

 

About Aging Eye Public Private Partnership

Ohio’s Aging Eye Public Private Partnership (AEPPP) is a statewide collaboration that addresses the growth of aging eye challenges in Ohio. The mission of the AEPPP, an initiative supported by the Ohio Department of Aging, is to develop a strategic plan of action to address issues relating to vision care public policy, vision care services, vision education, and vision research that impact the quality of life for Ohio’s seniors now and in the future.

 

About Ohio Department of Aging

The Ohio Department of Aging works to ensure that Ohio is on the leading edge of innovation in responding to the growing and changing aging population. We work with state agencies, area agencies on aging and other local partners to help integrate aging needs into local plans and ensure that aging Ohioans have access to a wide array of high-quality services and supports that are person-centered in policy and practice. Our programs include the PASSPORT Medicaid waiver, the long-term care ombudsman program, the Golden Buckeye Card and more. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov.