East Hawaii News

Sangha Hall Event Marks Kupuna Fall Prevention Week

September 20, 2012, 3:58 PM HST
* Updated September 20, 3:59 PM
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An event at the Hilo Hongwanji Mission Saturday will set the stage for Kupuna Fall Prevention Awareness Week.

The activities lasting until Sept. 30 include free reviews of medication being taken by seniors to identify potential problems, and bag-stuffers with fall prevention tips.

Saturday’s Athletic/Wellness Fair at the church’s Sangha Hall will provide free physical screening of seniors’ risk of falling. The service is being provided by volunteers from the Hawaii Fire Department and members of the Fall Prevention Consortium.

Saturday has also been declared by Congress to be Fall Prevention Awareness Day.

“Fall prevention is a major concern for the safety and well-being of our beloved kupuna, the fastest growing segment of our population,” said state Health Director Loretta Fuddy.

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Fuddy said that every five hours in Hawaii a senior suffers a fall that requires hospitalization. In an average year more than 100 seniors die in the state as a result of falls.

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At Hilo Medical Center there were about 700 emergency visits resulting from seniors falling in 2010, an average of nearly two each day. According to Stan Michaels, the health department’s fall prevention coordinator, the actual number is likely higher because no cause for injury was given in 25% of the cases of seniors being transported to the ER, and another 156 trips were the result of fainting.

Throughout next week, pharmacists at the Mina Pharmacies in Hilo and Kona will be performing free medication reviews to check for medicines that could cause or contribute to a fall.

Michaels said the problems can stem not only from prescription drugs but also from over-the counter medicines as well as herbal supplements.

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“It’s a combination of everything they’re taking in their homes,” he said.

An appointment is required for the medication review.

The Mina Pharmacy in Hilo is located at 1251 Kilauea Ave. and can be reached at 935-3100. In Kona, the Mina Pharmacy is located at 75-5995 Kuakini Hwy., Suite 513, and can be reached at 329-1000.

Several Hawaii supermarket chains, including Foodland and KTA Superstores on the Big Island, are participating in the kupuna fall prevention by providing shoppers with “Fall Prevention Tips for Seniors” bag-stuffers.

Kupuna fall prevention tips include exercising regularly to increase balance and flexibility, having a doctor or pharmacist review medications yearly, having eyes checked annually, and making the home safer by removing fall hazards, installing safety devices like railings and grab bars, and improving lighting.

For more information about fall prevention contact Michaels at 808-733-9202.

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