One in three adults 65 and older falls each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and that number has risen sharply over the past decade.  Falls are the leading cause of injury death for older Americans and they can significantly limit the ability of older adults to age in place.   Falls are not a normal part of aging and there are a variety of measures individuals can take to reduce their chances of having a serious fall.  One of the easiest methods is to get educated about what causes falls, how to avoid them and what things in your personal life can be altered to reduce your risk.  To focus attention on this, Governor Gregoire has proclaimed the week of Sept. 22 as Fall Prevention Week.

The Peninsula Fall Prevention Coalition is offering an educational day on Sept. 27 from 10 to 2 p.m. at the 27th at the HOPE Center, 8502 Skansie Avenue, in Gig Harbor for community members to get valuable information on how to prevent falls, including demonstrations, methods and materials to increase body strength, household safety tips and the part diet and medicine can have on influencing balance.

“The coalition is made up of a large number of area businesses, residents and professionals who work together to provide information and develop programs to help reduce the risks of fall related injuries in our community,” said Vicki Main, community relations director for Visiting Angels and one of the board members.  The coalition has put on the event since 2010.   If you are interested in becoming involved with the Peninsula Fall Prevention Coalition contact Prevention Specialist, Nanette Tatom at 253-851-5111 at Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One.

heart beatThere’s no more dangerous health condition for women than a heart issue. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States and a leading cause of disability among women.

The most important thing to do if you think you are having heart attack symptoms is to call 911 and tell them you are experiencing heart attack symptoms. Unfortunately, most general information on heart attacks is designed with men’s symptoms in mind and women’s symptoms are considerably different. As a result, women fail to call because their symptoms are so unlike those usually described.

A workshop, “Call 911: Don’t Miss A Beat” presents a close-up look at the most important heart attack symptoms women are likely to experience. Often times, those symptoms surface a month or more before the attack. Recognizing them can prevent a crisis. The workshop is free and open to the public. No reservations are required. The presentation will be given two times:

July 9: 12:10–12:50 p.m., Pierce County Annex–Main Conference Room, 2401 S. 35th Street, Tacoma
July 12: 12:10–12:50 p.m., County-City Building – Rainier Conference Room – 7th Fl.  930 Tacoma Avenue, Tacoma
For more information, call the Pierce County Aging & Disability Resource Center at (253) 798- 4600 or (800) 562-0332.

Two of Washington’s largest nonprofit health insurers are each sitting on record surpluses of more than $1 billion.

“At a time when people are paying more for their health premiums and getting less, these companies have stockpiled huge assets,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.  State law requires Kreidler’s office to ignore insurer surpluses when reviewing proposed premiums. Kreidler has repeatedly tried to change the law.  “It’s like trying to ignore an elephant in the room,” he said. “And the elephant’s getting bigger.”

The surpluses have grown dramatically and steadily from around $400 million in 2000 to their current levels.  Premera Blue Cross has a surplus of $1,015,692,693, according to its most recent quarterly filing with the insurance commissioner’s office and Regence BlueShield’s surplus is $1,048,103,555.

“Some insurance lobbyists like to describe these surpluses as `reserves,’” said Kreidler. “That’s simply not true. A company’s surplus is above and beyond what the company has set aside in its reserves.”  Kreidler has proposed legislation three times to allow his office to consider surpluses when reviewing rates. The most recent was Substitute Senate Bill 5247, which died in the Senate Rules Committee earlier this year.  “Families are clearly struggling to afford insurance,” said Kreidler. “More than a million Washingtonians have no health coverage at all. Yet very few people know how much these nonprofit health insurers are sitting on.”

Kreidler intends to propose the legislation again next year.  “The larger these surpluses grow, the harder it is to make the case that we should ignore them,” he said.

Good eye health doesn’t just happen. Good eyesight is an important part of well-being and a significant factor in retaining independence and quality of life.  Vision loss does not need to be an accepted part of life.  Vision can deteriorate for many reasons.  Even when loss is associated with the aging process, many interventions are available.
Pierce County Aging & Disability Resource Center and Pacific Northwest Eye are sponsoring “Can You See What I See,” a free informational workshop for all ages.  Find out what can be done when vision does change, what options are available, and how consumers can evaluate those choices. Topics include cataracts, macular degeneration, dry eyes, diabetes, glaucoma and eye surgeries.  No RSVP is required.  It will be repeated four times:
· June 4 –12:10-12:50 p.m.
County-City Building, 7th Floor Rainier Conference Rm., 930 Tacoma Ave S., Tacoma
· June 12 – 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Merrill Gardens at Tacoma,7290 Rosemount Circle, Tacoma
· June 18 – 12:10-12:50 p.m.
Pierce County Annex, Main Conference Room, 2401 35th Street, Tacoma
Dr. Victor W. Chiu, M.D. will be speaking about a variety of eye conditions that people of any age must consider: cataracts, macular degeneration, blurry or double vision, diabetes, glaucoma, LASIK, surgeries and more.  Dr. Chiu is on the staff of Pacific Northwest Eye.  He is board certified in ophthalmology.  His memberships include the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.
All three presentations of the workshop are free and open to the public.  No RSVPs are necessary.  For more information contact the Pierce County Aging & disability Resource Center at (253) 798-4600 or (800) 562-0332.