Seniors defy gravity at county’s fall prevention event

STAYING STEADY—Edwina King of Ventura receives a balance assessment during a fall prevention class held at the Simi Valley Senior Center on Sept. 22. Courtesy of Jannette Jauregui

When a child falls down, the worst that usually happens is a scrape on the knee and a “Star Wars” bandage from Mom. And they’re off and running again.

But 60 or 70 years later, it’s a much different story.

“We are very careful about falls,” 86-year-old Vivian Schick said at a fall prevention forum she and her 96-year-old husband, John, attended last month in Simi Valley.

“So far, so good,” she said.

Every 11 seconds in the United States, a fall sends an adult 65 or older to the emergency room. Falls are the leading cause of injuries for older Americans, according to the National Council on Aging.

The danger increases with age. Half of the U.S. population over the age of 75 experiences a fall each year, and of those individuals, half will die within a year from complications and injuries that follow.

That’s why 10 years ago on Sept. 22, the National Council on Aging and state and local organizations created Falls Prevention Awareness Day to educate seniors. The forum is purposely timed to be held on the first day of fall.

Organized by a coalition of the county Area Agency on Aging, last month’s forum at the Simi Valley Senior Center drew more than 200 seniors. That number marked the largest turnout yet for the local event, which is in its fourth year, said Dr. Thomas Duncan, a coalition member.

“We use this event as a platform to impart knowledge, but also to encourage people to sign up for our evidence-based classes, which show people not only how to improve their balance to keep from falling but also, if they do fall, how to fall so that they soften the fall,” said Duncan, the trauma medical director at Anacapa Surgical Associates in Ventura.

The rate of falls among seniors who complete the class is a fraction of the rate among seniors who have not…

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