Department of Health launches senior fall prevention initiative

Department of Health launches senior fall prevention initiative
Published: Jun. 8, 2015 at 7:46 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 8, 2015 at 9:42 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - At the Hawaii Academy in Kalihi, Doctor Max Vercruyssen's staff is putting a group of seniors through a variety of exercises.  He looks on proudly.

"The goal is really to avoid the falls, if they do have falls, to reduce the injuries," he says.

Vercruyssen is part of the State Department of Heath's initiative to cut the number of falls by Hawaii's senior population.  He says being active is key.

"Lack of use is a real problem.  Most of our problems in aging are from lack of use, not from disease or aging."

"8,000 Hawaii people fall every year and have to be transported by ambulance to an ER.  That's almost one every hour," said Stan Michaels, the State's Injury Prevention Coordinator.

The cost is just as bad.  Hospital and physician charges total more than 100 million dollars for those falls each year.  An average of 86 seniors die from falls.

Hence, the two month initiative covering the four pillars of fall prevention.  Almost 100 pharmacists will conduct free medication assessments by appointment to make sure seniors aren't taking something counterintuitive.

"We also recommend you get your vision checked, because if you can't see it, you're going to trip on it," said Michaels.

The State also recommends cleaning up the home environment to reduce the risk of falling.

"About 50 percent of falls for seniors occur right in their house, in broad daylight," Michaels added.

Most importantly—staying active and avoiding those falls.  Though it's not endorsed by the state, Dr. Max goes so far as to teach functionally falling--all in the name of better health.

"The idea is if you come in contact with the ground, you should safely navigate that interaction so you come up without injury."

For more information on the programs available at the Hawaii Academy, log on to
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