To the editor:
This past Friday, Iowa joined 46 other states in declaring Falls Prevention Awareness Day. While a trip on the sidewalk, fall on the ice or stumble in the kitchen may seem minor, statistics show among Iowa's elders, falls are the second highest cause of injury death. In fact, falls represent 44 percent of all injury hospitalizations, 28 percent of all injury emergency room visits, and are a contributing factor in 40 percent of all nursing home placements.
Clearly, with Iowa's high proportion of individuals living past 85, it's important to emphasize the impact falls have on our aging population, and the importance of prevention.
Simple actions can go a long way in preventing falls. Check around the house or apartment for loose rugs, slippery bathtubs or uneven surfaces, which may lead to a fall. Have your eyesight checked regularly, and ask your doctor about medications you may take that contribute to dizziness and balance problems.
One of the best ways to prevent falls is to maintain balance and strength throughout life by remaining active. Recently, Governor Branstad launched the Healthiest State Initiative, with a goal of making Iowa the healthiest state in the nation. During this beautiful time of year, take a walk in your neighborhood to enjoy the fall weather around you, invite friends to join you, and put Oct. 7 on your calendar as we join the governor to kick off the Healthiest State Initiative with a statewide walk for health.
Fortunately, falls are a public health problem that is largely preventable. Take time today to identify one or two actions you can take to protect your health and that of your loved ones.
Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks,
B.S.N., M.Ed., M.D.
Department on Aging