WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Hy-Vee, the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Governor’s Advisory Council on Brain Injuries have partnered to help educate Iowa’s elderly residents about ways they can prevent falls and injury during National Falls Prevention Awareness Month in September.
The seventh annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day will be held on Sept. 23. This year’s theme, “Strong Today, Falls Free Tomorrow,” seeks to raise awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults.
During the awareness month, Hy-Vee, IDPH and the Governor’s Advisory Council on Brain Injuries will provide education and resources through several avenues including pharmacies, websites, social media and a Sept. 17 webinar on “Aging, Fall Risk and Prevention Through Exercise” hosted by the Iowa Falls Prevention Coalition.
In September, when senior citizens fulfill their prescriptions at a Hy-Vee Pharmacy in Iowa, they will see educational information in their prescription bags.
“Our pharmacy staff often witness and help treat the aftermath of a fall, but this initiative enables us to bring awareness to the role we can play in prevention,” said Andy McCann, EVP and chief health officer of Hy-Vee. “We encourage our customers to review their prescription and nonprescription medications with us, as this is one of the main preventive measures our elderly can take."
Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people 65 years of age and older, according to the National Council on Aging. Every 14 seconds, an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury. And the chances of falling and of being seriously injured in a fall increase with age.
“Older Iowans in our communities had 29,590 fall-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations in 2012. These fall-related injuries resulted in 429 fatalities and approximately $135 million in hospitalization charges,” said Maggie Ferguson, IDPH brain injury and disability program manager. “We can change this by bringing greater attention to the many preventive measures that can be easily employed to keep our seniors safe.”
Studies show that a combination of interventions can significantly reduce falls among older adults. Falls Prevention Awareness Month promotional materials will encourage Iowa’s elderly adults to take the following steps:
Review all their prescription and non-prescription medicines with their doctor and pharmacist;
Talk to their health care provider about their risk of falling;
Have their vision checked at least once a year;
Talk to their family about their concerns;
Exercise to improve their strength and balance; and
Make their home safer by removing things they can trip over.