Hy-Vee, Iowa Health Agencies Team Up to Promote Falls Prevention Awareness Month



WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (Sept. 10, 2014) — Hy-Vee, Inc., the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Governor’s Advisory Council on Brain Injuries have partnered to help educate Iowa’s elderly 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 observed on Sept. 23, the first day of fall. This year’s theme, Strong Today, Falls Free® Tomorrow, seeks to raise awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults. Nearly 500,000 people over the age of 65 live in Iowa.

Hy-Vee, IDPH and the Governor’s Advisory Council on Brain Injuries hope to keep Iowa’s older population strong and falls-free by providing education and resources through several avenues — pharmacies, websites, social media and a Sept. 17 webinar — during the awareness month.

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, executive vice president and chief health officer of Hy-Vee. “We encourage our customers to review their prescription and non-prescription 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 over, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA). 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, the NCOA’s website says.

“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.
  • Make their home safer by removing things they can trip over.

“We thank the Iowa Department of Public Health and Hy-Vee for helping us to bring awareness to this issue. I have personally witnessed how injuries resulting from a fall can steal the quality of life from seniors and their families,” said W. Dave Johnson, a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Brain Injuries.

On Sept. 17 at 11 a.m., the Iowa Falls Prevention Coalition will host a webinar titled “Aging, Fall Risk and Prevention Through Exercise.” To register for the webinar, visit https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/760561400.

For more information about falls prevention, visit a local Hy-Vee Pharmacy; the IDPH Falls Prevention website at www.idph.state.ia.us/FallPrevention; or the NCOA website at www.ncoa.org/improve-health/falls-prevention.

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