Thursday, September 17, 2009

September is Senior Fall Prevention Awareness Month!

The Hawaii State Department of Health's Injury Prevention Program and the Hawaii Fall Prevention Consortium, in collaboration with Longs Drugs, The Hawaii Optometric Association, and KTA Superstores, is sponsoring Senior Fall Prevention Awareness Month during September.

"On average, every five hours in Hawaii, a senior suffers a fall injury so serious he or she must be hospitalized," said Director of Health Chiyome Fukuno, M.D. "Fall prevention is a major concern for the safety and well-being of our kupuna, the fastest growing segment of our population." Fall incidents increase dramaticaly in the years after age 65, and those who have fallen once are much more likely to fall again. Every year in Hawaii, on average, 65 seniors die, 1560 are hospitalized, and 4195 are treated in emergency departments due to falls, resulting in almost $43 million in hospital and physician charges. Adding the cost of rehabilitation and nursing care can double that amount.

Senior Fall Prevention Awareness Month activities in September will include:

*September 18 - the Big Island's KTA Puainako store pharmacists will conduct senior medication reviews with the assistance of UH Hilo School of Pharmacy students

*September 22-27 - by appointment only, in-store pharmacists at all Longs Drugs statewide will conduct free medication reviews for seniors to check for medicines that could cause or contibute to a fall

*September 25-27 - free physical screening of seniors to assess their risk for falling will be given by volunteer physical therapists from Straub, Rehab Hospital, and FIT Therapy during the Seniors' Fair and Good Life Expo at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall

Senior fall prevention tips include participating in tai chi or exercising regularly to increase balance and flexibility, having a doctor or pharmacist review your medications yearly, having eyes checked annually, and making the home safer by removing fall hazards and improving lighting.

For more information about fall prevention for seniors, call the Department of Health Injury Prevention program at 733-9202.