Seminar targets elderly, falls

By CANDY NEAL
Herald Staff Writer

Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths for older adults. They are also the common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.

Because about 20 percent of Dubois County’s population is 60 or older, a countywide health consortium decided that the issue of falling should be addressed in its first public seminar.

A “Stand Up to Falls” seminar, sponsored by the Dubois County Health Partnership, will be held Tuesday, Sept. 21, at the Arnold F. Habig Community Center, 1301 St. Charles St., Jasper. Registration opens at 8 a.m. and the seminar runs from 8:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“The seminar will look at the impact of falls and what the elderly and their caregivers can do to prevent them,” said Donna Oeding, administrative director for the county health department.
“There are so many different issues around falls. So we decided that we should present something about this.”

According to information compiled by the Centers for Disease Control, more than a third of adults 65 or older fall each year in the United States. The most common fractures are spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm and hand injuries; head trauma is also a risk from falls.

“Even if they didn’t get hurt, they may develop a fear from falling and decide to limit their activities because of that fear. That causes isolation,” Smith said. “So the fall may not lead to a physical injury, but it could lead to social and mental issues.”

People 75 or older who fall are four to five times more likely to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or longer, according to the CDC.

“Twenty to 30 percent of those who fall suffer some sort of injury that makes it hard to go back to independent living,” said Laura Smith, vice president of Generations, this area’s Agency on Aging. “Some of those folks end up in a nursing home permanently.”

These injuries also can increase the risk of an early death, according to the CDC.

“That’s why we think this is so important,” Smith said. “There are so many things people can do to prevent falls.”

Along with having medical professionals discussing the issues around falls, the seminar will include vision screenings and exercise demonstrations. “Exercise helps increase your balance, endurance and strength and mobility,” Smith said.

The keynote speaker will be Pat Koch, the 79-year-old director of values at Holiday World in Santa Claus. “Talk about a lady that gets up and keeps moving,” Oeding said. “She’s such a motivator.”

Attendees will also receive information to make safety assessments of their home. “There are things they can change in their homes to make it more friendly,” Oeding said. “Throw rugs can cause slips. Coffee tables could be in the way of paths. The lighting in the home may need to be adjusted.”

A vendor fair, massages and $20 flu shots will also be available to attendees, as will lunch and door prizes.

The seminar is meant to respond to an area the partnership determined should be addressed in Dubois County: helping seniors and their caregivers plan for the seniors’ needs. The partnership was formed in 2008 to identify the most essential public health needs in Dubois County.

Next week’s seminars is being orchestrated by the partnership and several of its members, including Generations, the Habig Center, the health department, Kimball International, Tri-Cap’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program and Memorial Hospital.

The seminar cost is $10 per person. To make reservations, call the Habig Center at 482-4455.

Contact Candy Neal at cneal@dcherald.com.




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