Everyone has heard about the aging “tsumani”— that enormous collection of “Baby Boomers” who were born after World War II — and its huge impact on our Islands and society. Boomers are turning 65 in record numbers: every 10 seconds. That is 6 new seniors per minute, 360 per hour, 8,640 per day, and more than 3 million in 2010 alone. Unfortunately many are in need of serious health care … and there are not enough doctors, nurses and hospital beds to accommodate everyone.
More than ever, we have to take charge of our own health, including doing what we can to avoid health problems, such as preventing falls. According to the Centers for Disease Control, falls are the leading cause of accidental fatal and non-fatal injuries among Hawai‘i’s older adults. Every five hours a kupuna is injured so severely in a fall that he/she must be treated in a hospital.
These falls threaten our independence and quality of life … and many seniors never fully recover from their injuries.
The good news is that falls are preventable.
Here are four key ways you can prevent yourself from falling:
- Medication Management: Multiple medications can cause dizziness and contribute to a fall. Ask your pharmacist to review all of your medications — prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs (antihistamines, cough syrups, etc.) and supplements such as vitamins, ginkgo root, ginseng or other herbal items.
- Vision Checks: Get your eyes checked annually. Your depth perception and ability to see in low light changes over a lifetime.
- Create A Safe Home: Clean and clear your living area. De-clutter your residence and remove fall hazards (loose newspapers, throw rugs, electric cords) from your path. Also, add more lighting to walkways, stairways and other pathways. Increase the wattage in all your lights. Don’t worry about the extra electricity … it is cheaper than a fall injury. And most importantly, turn on a light when you get up at night.
- Physical Activity: Exercise and walk regularly for balance and strength. Even if you require a cane or a walker, keep walking. If you’re too frail to walk safely, try chair exercises—much can be accomplished from a seated position. Find examples on CDs and YouTube videos that specialize in seated exercises.
If you’re up for taking a class, tai chi is a popular exercise for preventing falls. It focuses on balance while alleviating stress and anxiety. It’s considered to be a form of ‘meditation in motion’.
To view the 2013-2018 Hawaii Falls Prevention State Plan, visit www.hawaiiadrc.org and click on the “Resources” tab and scroll down to “New Publications.”
Executive Office on Aging
808-586-0100 | firstname.lastname@example.org