Kauai News

Statewide Awareness Campaign Aimed at Reducing Kūpuna Fall Injuries Underway

Posted June 23, 2022, 12:00 PM HST ·Updated June 23, 11:23 AM

A new statewide awareness campaign is aimed at reducing injuries to kūpuna from falling.

The state Department of Health and the Hawai‘i Fall Prevention Consortium campaign runs through July 17 and features new public service announcements, tai chi classes, a tai chi instructor workshop, medication reviews for seniors, “Fall Proof” workshops and community presentations that focus on preventing falls among older adults.

“Almost every hour, a senior is transported by ambulance to an emergency department in our state because of a fall injury,” Dr. Alvin Bronstein, chief of the DOH Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention Systems Branch, said in a press release. “Yet many falls and fall-related injuries can be prevented with existing knowledge and technology. The DOH is glad to be continuing this valuable program to help ensure the safety and well-being of Hawai‘i seniors.”

Hawai‘i averaged 144 seniors deaths, 2,251 hospitalizations and 10,046 treated in emergency departments each year from 2016-21 because of unintentional falls.

Kūpuna are disproportionately affected by falls. Statistics show people older than 65 are the most vulnerable. Falls have emotional and physical impacts to seniors and their caregivers, creating a significant financial toll on families and the health care system; more than $223 million in hospital and physician charges were incurred in 2021 for fall-related injuries in Hawai‘i, according to the DOH.

The DOH offers the following advice to prevent falls and fall-related injuries:

  • 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.
  • Exercise regularly to increase balance and flexibility.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, evidence-based exercise programs such as Tai Chi for Health can increase strength and improve balance, making falls much less likely.

For more information about presentations, tai chi classes, workshops and other activities that are part of the statewide fall prevention campaign, click here.

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