SISTERS, OR -- Every 11 seconds, an older American is treated in an Emergency Room for injuries suffered in a fall; one in four people over the age of 65 falls each year, nationwide. On Friday, the Sisters-Camp Sherman Rural Fire Protection District hosted its second annual Fall Prevention Symposium, in an effort to reduce that rate.
Dr. Elizabeth Eckstrom, Professor and Chief of Geriatrics at Oregon Health and Science University, was the keynote speaker. She believes it's important to keep seniors safe and healthy, "Falls are the biggest reason for injury deaths in older adults, as well as the biggest reason that people get placed into long-term care facilities like nursing homes. So, they can be a big loss of independence for older adults."
Friday's second annual Sisters symposium was for care providers, first responders, and therapists. "They're going out and doing home visits and really looking into some of the reasons that an older adult falls," Dr. Eckstrom tells KBND News, "And they're lucky to be in the home, because they can see some of the trip hazards and poorly lit areas." She believes a lot of people think falls are inevitable, and that's why getting training and education as a caregiver is important, "Many falls can be mitigated. I've been working in fall prevention for almost 20 years, and in all of that time, I've found that if we really help older adults understand what some of their risk factors are, we can markedly reduce falls." One solution she's researched extensively is Tai Chi, "It reduces your risk of falls in half. It's better than any other intervention for reducing fall risk."
Eckstrom says the whole community can be part of creating a safety for seniors, "Restaurants and banks and grocery stores and everything." She says everyone can help reduce the fall risk, "So that we can make sure that all of our older adults can be very, very safe and able to get out in the community and do the things that they want to do."