Meeting will cover risk of falls for elderly
The conference will be held at the Sheraton Waikiki
Preventing falls among the elderly, one of the most serious medical problems in Hawaii, will be addressed by local and mainland experts at a daylong conference Tuesday at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.
The state Department of Health is sponsoring the event with the City and County Elderly Affairs Division, Hawaii Island Adult Care Inc., Hawaii Medical Service Association, Ohana Pacific Rehab and Project Dana.
Keynote speakers will be Dr. Katherine Berg, chairwoman of the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto, and Debra Rose, co-director of the Center for Successful Aging and professor in the Division of Kinesiology and Health Science of California State University at Fullerton.
The conference will begin with registration and continental breakfast at 8:30 a.m.
An elderly person in Hawaii is hospitalized about every five hours because of falling, the department said in a news release. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries, injury-related hospitalizations and emergency room visits.
Falls cause 80 percent of hospitalizations for traumatic brain injuries every year in Hawaii with an average of 65 seniors killed, 1,760 hospitalized and 4,460 treated in an emergency department, according to the department.
Dan Galanis, Health Department epidemiologist in the Injury Prevention Program, said hospitalization costs for falls for older Hawaii residents exceed $45 million a year. About 53 percent is paid by Medicare and Medicaid, he said.
"Falls can be tragic and devastating for seniors age 65 or older," said state Health Director Chiyome Fukino. "However, these accidents are preventable. Fall prevention is critical to the independence and quality of life for our kupuna."
The conference will present information for health professionals, caregivers and seniors on the best ways to prevent falls.