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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)
September 17, 2013 Tuesday
NEWS; Pg. 10B
|Aging; Campaign aims to keep seniors from falling;
Joe Vardon, THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Marcia Early is 74 years old, and she packs a mean slap shot.
Yesterday, one of her shots ricocheted off a wall and rolled right over to where Gov. John Kasich would be sitting a few minutes later for the unveiling of his fall-prevention program for senior citizens.
"Street hockey is the ultimate," Early, a retired veterinarian, said at the Gillie Senior Center on the North Side, where she and seven others are in a street-hockey program sponsored by the Blue Jackets.
Early also participated in the rollout of Kasich's Steady U Ohio program, a multifaceted wellness plan for limiting falls by the state's seniors. Before Early started blasting street-hockey balls at a senior goaltender in pads, they were led through a series of stretches and tai chi movements by instructor Mitchell Briant as part of Kasich's initiative.
One component of Steady U involves a balance-and-exercise program for seniors in all 88 counties.
"The exercise matters," Kasich said. "You will be like a flower that hadn't been watered in a week, because you will see a blooming and a blossoming of your own self."
Kasich said in May that the Department of Aging would unveil a major program designed "to get seniors to not have so much pride that they don't realize that they need to have a walker."
Steady U will give health-care providers a toolkit for conducting falls-risk assessments and encourage seniors to ask their doctors to conduct the assessments.
The program also includes getting Ohio businesses to make stores and restaurants "fall-free zones"; working with nursing homes to make sure they have sufficient lighting to prevent falls; including fall-risk assessments as a part of home and community-based Medicaid-waiver programs; and focusing on high-risk populations such as Alzheimer's patients to reduce their falls. Kasich said businesses would be covering costs for any upgrades needed as a result of this plan.
The program's website is steadyu.ohio.gov.
"This is all designed to say to our seniors, you know, you get older, but don't get old, as best as you can," Kasich said. "Stay healthy, stay fit and you know what? You do that exercise and you play that street hockey, it's amazing how your waist size goes down."
Department of Aging Director Bonnie Kantor-Burman said falls are the leading cause of injury-related emergency-room visits, hospital stays and deaths among people 65 and older. She said in Ohio, an "elder" falls every two minutes. Falls resulting in an ER trip happen every eight minutes, she said, and three fatal falls occur every day.
"It has reached epidemic proportions in our state," Kantor-Burman said.
September 17, 2013