Preventing Deadly Falls For Seniors

Yu Shing Ting
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Friday - November 04, 2009
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In recognition of National Home Care Month in November, Attention Plus Care is sponsoring a Senior Health Day Fair Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Windward Mall, Center Court.

The event is free and open to the public, and is aimed at providing seniors information to promote active, healthy living through physical fitness, good nutrition and preventative care. The event also will promote health awareness, safety, education, and offer resources and services that are available to the community.

Guest speakers include Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona and city managing director Kirk Caldwell. There also will be workshops on various topics such as eye diseases that progress with age by Dr. Hugo Higa from Aesthetic Vision Center; management and treatment of osteoporosis by Dr. Elaine Colby from Trade Winds Family Medicine, and safety precautions to reduce the risk of falls and injuries among seniors by Attention Plus Care registered nurse Eileen Phillips.


According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, in 2005, 15,800 people age 65 and older died from injuries related to unintentional falls. About 1.8 million people 65 and older were treated in emergency departments for non fatal injuries from falls, and more than 433,000 of these people were hospitalized.

“Falls happen inside the home and outside in the community, but most falls happen in the home because a lot of our elders are still living in their home,” says Phillips, who also serves as the client service director for Attention Plus Care. “It happens mostly when they’re more active during the day, when they’re using the bathroom or taking a bath.

“Also, stairs are one of the No. 1 places for falls and it happens mostly coming down the stairs versus going up. It could be something as simple as clutter on the stairs that has created a fall problem.”

As for the No. 1 cause of falls for seniors, Phillips says it’s the condition of the client - their strength and their ability to catch themselves or to maneuver around clutter or maneuver up and down the stairs safely.

That’s one reason it’s important for seniors to maintain an active lifestyle and exercise. One way to stay in shape is with tai chi, which Phillips says is a proven exercise that has been shown to reduce falls in the elderly.

“It’s an exercise that increases balance, strength and endurance,” she says. “And it’s simple to do.”

Attention Plus Care is a private-duty home health-care provider that has been serving Hawaii for more than 26 years.

According to Phillips, the goal is prevention, and part of their services offered is an environmental check of the client’s home.

“Basically we look at the living area to see if there’s enough room around the furniture,” explains Phillips. “A lot of our elderly like to save things, so sometimes we walk into a home and the hallway is lined with stacks of newspaper and magazines all over the floor. There also will be things they’ve saved because they just don’t want to throw things away, but these things can create a fall risk.

“Also, sometimes just getting into a bathtub is dangerous for them without grab bars, and we look to make sure they aren’t using towel racks for grab bars because towel racks can come off the walls. We also make sure the stairways have hand rails and that they’re clear. And that there’s good lighting because lighting can make a huge difference.”

For more information on Attention Plus Care or the upcoming Senior Health Day Fair, call 440-9372.

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