Falls-prevention event promotes awareness

September is National Fall Prevention Month, and the goal of raising awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults will be supported by a Pierce County Falls Prevention Day observance Sept. 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lakewood Family YMCA.

The event will provide information about the various causes of falls among seniors and the many things people can do to reduce their risk. Participants can receive fall-risk assessments, balance testing and blood pressure checks. Representatives of Pacific Lutheran University’s Department of Kinesiology will provide individual fall prevention screenings.

The free conference is sponsored by the Pierce County Fall Prevention Coalition. 

The YMCA is located at 9715 Lakewood Dr. SW. 

According to conference organizers, one in three Washington residents over age 65 fall each year. Falls and fall-related injuries account for more than half of all injury-related deaths of Washingtonians 65-and-over and 70 percent of all injury-related deaths for adults older than 85. In 2016 alone, 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 adults over 65 are for people with a diagnosis of dementia.

“A single fall isn’t always a sign of a major problem,” said Aaron Van Valkenburg, manager of Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources. “Recurrent falls – two or more in a six-month period – may have treatable causes. They 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.”

He said organizers hope the Falls Prevention Day activity will help seniors “take a good look at their situation before something serious happens and they become a statistic.”