Falls are the leading cause of death for persons 65 years of age and older in Oklahoma. More than 350 Oklahomans die from a fall each year. Nearly 7,000 Oklahomans are hospitalized from a fall-related injury including hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries. Hospital charges for acute care alone can total more than $237 million annually.


The risk of falling increases with age. As Oklahoma’s older population continues to increase in number, the Oklahoma State Department of Health encourages this group to stay active to help reduce the risk of falls. Even those older Oklahomans with chronic health conditions or physical limitations can benefit from increasing their level of safe activity. Falls often result in the fear of falling again, which causes many people to limit their activity and reduce their sense of independence.


Most fall injuries happen in predictable ways that can be prevented. As the weather warms and more persons are outdoors, the OSDH advises following these simple tips to prevent falls:


Wear supportive footwear with nonskid soles indoors and outdoors. No slip-ons.


Take care when walking on slippery, wet surfaces. Wet grass or a sidewalk covered with wet leaves can be dangerous.


Keep pathways free of outdoor furniture and garden hoses.


Put garden tools away when not in use.


Watch for uneven sidewalks or surfaces.


Use extra caution when using ladders, step stools, and other platforms.


Be mindful of pets that may cross your path and cause you to trip.


Use sunglasses or take a moment to let your eyes adjust to the sunlight before walking outside.


Don’t get overheated (getting dizzy or too tired from too long in the sun may cause a loss of balance).


The Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance program has been proven to reduce the risk of falls. In Oklahoma, many individuals have been trained as Tai Chi instructors and teach Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance classes around the state to older adults. This exercise program focuses on improving functional abilities, such as balance and physical function, to reduce fall-related risks and frequency of falls.


To receive more information on classes and how to prevent falls, contact the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Injury Prevention Service at (405) 271-3430 or visit http://falls.health.ok.gov and click on “Community Tai Chai Classes” in the left column.