Columbus -- To mark National Falls Prevention Awareness Day Sept. 22, and to raise awareness of the epidemic of falls among older Ohioans, a statewide initiative asked community organizations and individuals to take "10 Million Steps to Prevent Falls."
Communities, including the city-run Twinsburg Senior Center, responded, with 59 different organizations sponsoring 55 community events.
Statewide, more than 3,500 Ohioans walked approximately 6,800 miles. At an average of 2,500 steps per mile, that's 17 million steps taken in the name of falls prevention.
"We are thrilled with the response of our new and existing community partners to help protect their neighbors and loved ones from the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations and deaths among older adults," said Stephanie M. Loucka, director of the Ohio Department of Aging, which operates the STEADY U Ohio initiative. "In 2014, 30.1 percent of Ohioans reported falling at least once, and more than one in ten sustained a falls-related injury. However, falls are not a normal part of aging and most falls can be prevented."
STEADY U Ohio is a coordinated, statewide falls prevention campaign that organizes local walking events involving a few individuals to hundreds of people. Host organizations include local offices on aging, senior centers, health departments, nursing homes and assisted living facilities, malls, hospitals, fitness centers, public schools and more.
Several events included local students ranging from elementary to college age. Individuals were also encouraged to walk on their own and post a selfie of their efforts to social media using the hashtags #PreventFalls and #10MStepsOH.
"For many older adults and their families, a single fall can be life-altering. '10 Million Steps' is about helping everyone recognize that each of us has a role to play in putting an end to this epidemic," Loucka said.
According to the STEADY U Ohio initiative, an older Ohioan falls every two minutes. Every five minutes, someone is injured in a fall.
The number of fatal falls among older Ohioans has increased more than 167 percent since 2000. Older adults comprise 14 percent of the population and for 83 percent of fatal falls.
The total cost of falls (medical costs, work loss) is estimated at $1.8 million per day.
Find tips and resources to prevent falls for yourself or a loved one at www.steadyu.ohio.gov.