Preventable fall-related injuries and fatalities among Hawaii seniors reaching troubling numbers

Fall-related injuries and fatalities among Hawaii seniors are reaching troubling numbers.

Every year, an average of 86 seniors die and more than 8000 are treated at emergency rooms.

But falls are preventable.

This morning on Wake Up 2day, Stanley Michael, Fall Prevention Specialist with the State Department of Health joined us in studio to talk about the issue.

Michael says the state has nine companies at 66 locations on 5 islands participating in the campaign. Many pharmacies will be offering free medication reviews and balance testing for seniors. It helps determine fall risk as well as safe use of medications.

Project VISION Hawaii is offering free eye exams and eyeglasses to seniors in need and Project Dana is offering free Personal Electronic Safety Devices to seniors especially those living alone.

Plus tai chi classes continue for seniors now expanded to 36 locations statewide. And during July the state will be offering a meet and greet with home safety experts at the Kaimuki and Pearl City City Mill stores.

Just about every hour on the hour a senior is transported by ambulance to an emergency room because of a fall injury.  That is over 8,050 per year. Many of those seniors never return to a normal life, with many requiring full time living assistance.  In addition to the physician and hospital costs of approximately $120 million per year, add physical therapy, and long term care costs that are even more expensive.  If you add the four costs together, just in Hawaii, it totals over $250,000,000 million per year. That’s over $684,000 per day.

Falls are preventable. They are not inevitable just because someone ages. Everyone falls. In Hawaii, over 22,000 citizens must visit an emergency room each year because of a fall injury. Many of those just bounce back and brush it off and heal.  However, when a senior falls, it is much more serious, because senior bones are more brittle and break easier…not to mention all of the other aging maladies that can contribute to difficult recovery.

The state recommends 5 easy steps to reduce falls. Medication Review, Annual Vision Check, Stay Active and Exercise, Make Your Home Safer, and if you live alone or are alone for long stretches of time, you must get a Personal Electronic Safety Device.

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