Spending time at a free conference can help make sure you don’t fall

Spending time at a free conference can help make sure you don’t fall

Falls don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with aging, but when they happen to older adults, the consequences can be dramatic.

The National Council on Aging reports that one in four Americans 65 and older falls each year. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries and the most common cause of non-fatal, trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. Nationally, victims are treated every 11 seconds in a hospital emergency room, and one of them dies every 19 minutes as a result of falling. 

September is National Fall Prevention Month, with the goal to raise awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults. In observance of that effort, Pierce County Falls Prevention Day will be held Sept. 24 at the Morgan Family YMCA in Tacoma at 1002 S. Pearl St.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the event will provide information about causes of falls among seniors and the things people can do to reduce their risk. Along with tips about prescription drug side-effects, foot care and other ways to make them safer, participants can 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.

The free conference is sponsored by the Pierce County Fall Prevention Coalition and Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources.

 â€œFalls are a scary thing,” said Aaron Van Valkenburg, manager of Aging and Disability Resources, a county government program. He noted that according to the national Center for Disease Control, one of every five falls causes a serious injury such as a broken bone or a head injury.

“Fear of falling can also seriously affect an aging adult’s quality of life, and – sadly — can keep a person from being active and thriving,” Van Valkenburg said. 

Many community centers offer specialized strength and balance programs such as SAIL (Stay Active and Independent for Life) to help seniors prevent falls. Senior centers in Pierce and King counties and Metro Parks Tacoma can be contacted for information about dates and times for SAIL classes.

Additional information is available from Aging and Disability Resources at 253-798-4600.