HONOLULU (KHON2) — Did you know almost every hour, a senior is transported by ambulance to an emergency department in Hawaii because of a fall injury?

“Yet many falls and fall-related injuries can be prevented with existing knowledge and technology,” said Dr. Alvin Bronstein, chief of the Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention Systems Branch.

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The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) and the Hawaii Fall Prevention Consortium have launched a statewide campaign to reduce kupuna fall injuries. From now until July 17, there will be tai chi classes, “Fall Proof” workshops, medication reviews for seniors and other events.

According to the DOH, Hawaii’s kupuna are disproportionately affected by falls, with those over the age of 65 being the most vulnerable.

Every year between 2016 and 2021, Hawaii averaged the following numbers because of unintentional falls: 144 seniors deaths, 2,251 hospitalizations and 10,046 treated in emergency departments. Last year alone, there were over $223 million in hospital and physician charges for fall-related injuries in Hawaii.

To prevent fall-related injuries, the DOH offers the following tips to seniors and their caregivers:

  • Have your doctor or pharmacist review your medications yearly;
  • Get an annual eye exam;
  • If you live alone, get a Personal Electronic Safety Device;
  • Make your home safer by removing fall hazards and improving lighting; and
  • Exercise regularly to increase balance and flexibility.

Exercise like Tai Chi can increase strength and improved balance, making falls less likely to happen. See the other programs below being offered through July.

“Aging Isn’t for Sissies” fall prevention presentations

This award-winning presentation will continue at various locations around Oahu and on neighbor islands pending current COVID specifications and protocols. Currently the Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention System Branch (EMSIPSB) is scheduling presentations based on community requests. Call (808) 733-9202 or email stanley.michaels@doh.hawaii.gov to inquire as to when and where the next event will be.

“Fall-Proof” Senior Assistive Safety Devices at Home

The City Mill stores on Nimitz, and in Pearl City will host fall prevention and home safety specialists from the DOH. The public will be informed of the exact dates the “Fall Proof” workshops will occur. These events will use all current COVID safety protocols. Seniors and their families are invited to ask questions about the latest senior assistive safety devices that can help make a home safer and almost “fall-proof”.

TIMES Pharmacies will offer medication reviews for seniors

Pharmacists at TIMES will offer medication reviews for kupuna by appointment during the campaign. Seniors are urged to speak with the pharmacists at TIMES to see if multiple medications are a possible concern and may contribute to dizziness or a possible fall.

Tai Chi for Arthritis/Fall Prevention classes held at all Oahu YMCAs

Ongoing classes in Tai Chi for Arthritis/Fall Prevention (TCAFP) are offered at all Oahu YMCAs. All classes are led by Certified TCAFP instructors, and their certified skills are one of the reasons this exercise is one of the world’s leading fall prevention programs. Contact your YMCA for more information.

Tai Chi for Arthritis/Fall Prevention Instructor Workshop

In August, a Tai Chi for Arthritis/Fall Prevention (TCAFP) Instructor Workshop is being held to re-certify instructors in TCAFP. Certification is maintained by the International Tai Chi for Health Institute. For information on community classes call (808) 733-9202 or visit the DOH website.