Falls prevention event highlights awareness, action

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Falls are the scourge of aging. They can result in minor sprains and bruises or cause major bone breaks. They can even result in hospitalization or death. As the number of seniors continues to grow, the number of fall-related injuries continues to increase.

September is National Fall Prevention Month and the Pierce County Fall Prevention Coalition is sponsoring an event to raise awareness about fall-related injuries among older adults. The 2018 Pierce County Falls Prevention Day observance will be held Monday, Sept. 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lakewood Family YMCA, located at 9715 Lakewood Dr. SW.

The event will provide practical information about the causes of falls among seniors and how to reduce their risk of injury. Participants will receive fall risk assessments, balance testing and blood pressure checks. The Pacific Lutheran University Department of Kinesiology will be on hand to provide individual fall prevention screenings. Information about vision testing, prescription drug side effects, hearing problems, foot care and how to make your home a safer place will also be available.

“A single fall is not always a sign of a major problem,” said Aaron Van Valkenburg, Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources manager. “Recurrent falls – two or more falls in a 6-month period – may have treatable causes. This should be considered a warning that something more significant might be going on and a discussion with a health care provider may be in order. We hope this event will provide an opportunity for seniors to take a good look at their situation before something serious happens and they become a statistic.”

The numbers are staggering. One in three Washington residents over age 65 fall each year. In 2016, 887 seniors died from falls and fall-related injuries, more than double the 393 who died in 2000. Twenty-five percent of all fall-related hospitalizations for people over age 65 have a diagnosis of dementia.

The 2018 Pierce County Fall Prevention Day will discuss tips and tools to help avoid falls and the catastrophic consequences that can be associated with them. Many community centers now offer specialized strength and balance programs such as SAIL – Stay Active and Independent for Life – which help seniors prevent falls.

This event is free and open to the public. No RSVP is required. For more information about fall prevention call the Pierce County Aging and Disability Resource Center at 253-798-4600.

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