Awareness Day’s goal: Avoid falls and hospitals

If there’s one preventable problem that nevertheless sends seniors to the hospital emergency rooms, it’s falling.

The Pierce County Fall Prevention Awareness Day will be held Sept. 29 to provide education to seniors on fall prevention and free screenings to include fall risk assessments, balance testing, and blood pressure checks. Select vendors will offer services and programs to help reduce fall risks and promote safe alternatives. And a light lunch will be provided.

The free event will be held at Meridian Habitat Community Center, located at 14422 Meridian E. in Puyallup’s South Hill area from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  It’s sponsored by the Pierce County Fall Prevention Coalition. More information is available from the Pierce County Aging and Disability Resource Center at 253-798-4600 or 800-562-0332.

“Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations in our state,” said Aaron Van Valkenburg, manager of Aging and Disability Resources. “More than 20,000 people ended up in the hospital in just one year. Falling is a serious problem that we all have to consider.”

According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three adults age 65 and older fall each year. Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head injuries, and can increase the risk of early death. Fortunately, falls are a public health problem that are largely preventable, officials said.

Falls can be caused by vision problems, muscle and bone loss, slower reflexes, prescription drug side-effects, loss of blood pressure, sensory problems, poor lighting, foot problems, chronic disease, diet and carelessness. Officials say that pinpointing a direct cause is often difficult, and many seniors don’t want to bring it up with their healthcare provider, even though that’s the best first step.