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State launches fall prevention awareness campaign for kupuna this Sunday

The Hawaii Department of Health is launching a month-long senior fall prevention awareness campaign, starting this Sunday.

Every year in Hawaii, on average, 128 seniors die, 2,010 are hospitalized, and 9,950 are treated in emergency departments for fall-related accidents, according to the state Health Department.

Falls disproportionately affect older residents, with statistics showing that those older than 65 are the most vulnerable. In addition to the emotional and physical impact on seniors, the falls create a significant financial toll on families and the health care system.

Annually, fall-related trauma in Hawaii results in $120 million in hospital and medical charges.

The campaign will feature new public service announcements on local TV networks, a tai chi instructor workshop, fall prevention community presentations, and “Fall Proof” workshops at City Mill. All events will follow pandemic restrictions.

“Almost every hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a senior with a fall-related injury is transported by ambulance to a hospital emergency department,” said Dr. Alvin C. Bronstein, chief of DOH’s Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention System Branch, in a news release. “Yet many falls and fall-related injuries can be prevented with existing knowledge and technology. The Department of Health is pleased to be able to continue this valuable program to help ensure the safety and well-being of Hawaii seniors, the fastest growing segment of our population.”

The Health Department offers the following important advice to seniors, their family, and caregivers to prevent falls and fall-related injuries that can limit mobility and independence:

>> Annually review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure they are not affecting your balance.

>> Receive annual eye examinations.

>> If you live alone, a Personal Electronic Safety Device is essential. These devices save lives every day.

>> Make your home safer by removing fall hazards and improving lighting.

>> Exercise regularly to increase balance and flexibility. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, evidence-based exercise programs such as Tai Chi for Health can increase strength and improve balance, making falls much less likely.

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