Falling isn’t fun for anyone, but as we get older falling can have serious, life-changing effects. These injuries can require skilled nursing care — or worse, falls can be fatal.
Prevention help is free
The good news is that falling can often be prevented. Since 60 percent of falls occur at home, making sure you are as safe as possible there is a top priority. You can get a fall prevention assessment for free from the highly experienced volunteers at Project Dana.
In the past year, more than 100 seniors and their caregivers took advantage of Project Dana’s fall prevention services led by Mike Hirano. Mike has been doing home safety assessments for 11 years and knows this proactive approach can help maintain health and independence. However, Mike says, “Some people don’t think it will happen to them or some don’t want to admit they’ve fallen to their caregivers.” The reality is, as Mike explains, “You can be perfectly healthy, but one bad fall can put you flat on your back in bed. It’s difficult for a caregiver to take care of someone in that situation.”
Assessments cover high-risk issues
According to the Hawai‘i State Department of Health, the risk of falling can be decreased with regular exercise, eye exams, medication reviews, and making one’s home safer.
The Project Dana assessment includes education about how these areas affect fall risk. For example, over-the-counter medications can interact with prescription medications. This can cause someone to become dizzy or drowsy and lose balance. Mike and his team emphasize discussing any new medication or vitamin supplement with a pharmacist or physician.
The assessment also includes walking through the house to identify issues. Mike says, “Some things we see everywhere, like loose area carpets by a door or in the bathroom. Unless you have one with non-slip backing, you can slip or trip over it.”
There is a special focus on areas where people spend most of their time and the pathways between those areas. Homes with a lot of clutter are especially high-risk environments.
“We give them information and if they think it’s serious enough, hopefully they do something about it,” says Mike. “It’s good if caregivers are there, so they can help accomplish the tasks.”
Office hrs: Monday–Friday, 8 am–5 pm
Project Dana has affiliates on O‘ahu, Big Island, Maui and Kaua‘i. Please call for details.