East Hawaii News

New Campaign Aims to Reduce Fall Injuries Among Seniors

June 4, 2015, 1:09 PM HST
* Updated June 4, 1:10 PM
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The Hawai’i State Department of Health and the Hawai’i Fall Prevention Consortium are ready to launch the 2015 Senior Fall Prevention Campaign which will aim to reduce fall-related injuries among seniors.

Beginning on June 8, both the DOH and Hawai’i Prevention Consortium will partner with Foodland Supermarkets, Times Supermarkets, KTA Superstores, Kaiser Permanente, Walgreens Pharmacies, and the Hawai’i Community Pharmacy Association to sponsor the statewide program. The program, which will last until Aug. 30 will feature a newly produced educational video, outreach activities, including free medication reviews and balance testing, and workshops on fall prevention tips.

According to the DOH, an average of 85 senior citizens die each year in Hawai’i. An additional 1,912 are hospitalized and 8,010 are treated in emergency departments as a result of falls. In total, the falls add up to nearly $102 million in hospital and physician charges.

“Almost every hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, a senior is transported by ambulance to an emergency room in our state because of a fall injury. Yet many falls and fall-related injuries can be prevented with existing knowledge and technology,” said Dr. Virginia Pressler, Director of the Hawai’i State Department of Health. “Fall prevention is a major concern for our state and this collaborative effort is helping to ensure the safety and well-being of our kupuna, the fastest growing segment of our population.”

The DOH suggests the following tips for seniors, their family members, and caregivers to prevent the likelihood of falls and fall-related injuries:

  • Have your doctor or pharmacists review your medications yearly.
  • Have your eyes check annually
  • Make your home safer by removing fall hazards and improving lighting
  • Exercise regularly to increase balance and flexibility.
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As part of the Senior Fall Prevention Awareness Campaign, eight major areas will be covered with the following activities:

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The Hawai’i State Prevention Conference will be held on Oct. 15. At the conference, Shari Kogan, M.D., an internist specializing in geriatric medicine at The Queens Medical Center, along with Debra Rose, Ph.D., professor in the kinesiology department of California State University, Fullerton, the director of the award-winning Center for Successful Aging, and Co-Director of the Fall Prevention School of Excellence will be the keynote speakers.

Prevention tips are another one of the major areas that will be covered during the campaign. Over 51 stores throughout the state between June 15 and Aug. 30 will distribute 51,000 “bag-stuffers” that contain fall prevention tips for seniors and additional resources.

In addition, nearly 100 pharmacists will conduct free medication reviews at participating stores from July to August. The reviews are for seniors who are interested in identifying medications that can contribute to a fall.

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Kaiseer Permanente Hawai’i, in partnership with the Hawai’i Fall Prevention Consortium, will celebrate Older Americans Month in June in support of the summer-long campaign.

In an effort to boost community awareness, Olelo public access television will conduct re-broadcasts of two award-winning educational videos that demonstrate what people can do to help prevent falls for seniors.

Public service announcements are also planned to run on major news stations throughout June and July.

On July 1, the Hawai’i State Department of Health plans to re-launch its newly upgraded GPS fall prevention locator program on the DOH website. The program assists individuals in locating fall prevention services close to their community.

Seated Tai Chi is scheduled to take place at the North Hawai’i Community Hospital in Waimea on June 27 and 28. The seated version will allow frail seniors to participate in tai chi without standing. For more information about the workshop, call (808) 733-9202. In addition, presentations are scheduled at the Waimea Civic Center on June 26. The presentations will feature a home safety video, fall prevention tips, and additional information.

To learn more about how to prevent senior falls, call (808) 733-9202 or visit the DOH website.

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