BALTIMORE, MD (September 18, 2012) – Maryland seniors go to the emergency room for falls more than any other type of injury according to Health Service Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) hospital discharge data, says the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). To highlight this preventable cause of injury, Governor Martin O’Malley has designated September 16-22 Fall Prevention Awareness Week in Maryland.
Every day during 2010 an average of 77 Marylanders aged 65 and older were treated in emergency departments for falls, and another 44 were discharged from hospitals for the same reason. The cost of these falls is at least $139 million based on HSCRC data.
“Falls are more likely to happen as we age,” said Frances Phillips, DHMH Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services. “Improving balance and coordination is an effective way to reduce the risk of falls.”
To keep your balance:
- Begin a regular exercise program. Exercise improves strength and balance, as well as coordination.
- Have your health care provider review your medicines. Some medicines or combinations of medicines can make you sleepy or dizzy and cause you to fall.
- Have your vision checked. Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year. Poor vision can increase your chances of falling.
- Make your home safer. Remove tripping hazards like books and papers from stairs. Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to hold them in place. Install grab bars next to your toilet and shower.
In an effort to keep seniors agile, DHMH uses Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funds to offer mini grants for proven intervention programs geared toward senior citizens and to provide training to implement these programs throughout the state. Check with your local health department or agency on aging to see what fall prevention programs are offered in your area.
For a list of Fall Prevention Week activities near you, visit http://www.safermaryland.org. For more information about how to prevent falls, contact DHMH’s Center for Injury & Sexual Assault Prevention at 410-767-2919 or visit http://fha.dhmh.maryland.gov/ohpetup/SitePages/eip_falls.aspx .
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