by MARIO LOTMORE | Last Updated October 3, 2019
Falls top the list of 911 calls for older adults in South Snohomish County, totaling 1,845 calls last year. To bring awareness of preventative measures you can take in the home and in observance of Falls Prevention Week, South County Fire hosted a free Senior Pancake Breakfast with firefighters on Thursday, September 26, at Lynnwood Civic Center Fire Station 15, 18800 44th Ave. W.
Kim Sharpe, an Operation Military Family Veterans in Prevention volunteer, has been educating seniors for almost three years. Sharpe loves helping seniors and feels his work adds value to the community. “I am there ready to talk with seniors and make home visits. We discuss medical issues, nutrition, and general housekeeping.”
When asked of his advice to prevent falls in the home, Sharpe replied, “Minimize throw rugs, pickup excess boxes especially from the grandkids, use grab rails in the bathroom, identify and fix buckles in the carpet, and be aware that your pet isn’t underfoot.” Sharpe stressed that a significant number of injuries occur getting up or sitting down on the bed or toilet. His advice was to stand up, wait and look, then walk.
Sharpe recommends that in the unfortunate circumstance that you do fall, call 911 and let the operator know you have fallen and need help getting up. He stated spouses or friends of similar age may injure themselves attempting to help you after a fall.
Larry Hadland, a Community Resource Specialist and retired South County Fire Medical Supervisor emphasized that 4.3 people a day over the age of 60 in Snohomish County experience a fall that requires medical attention. Hadland stated wet surfaces and toilets contribute to a significant number of falls that occur in the bathroom. “As we get older, we lose leg strength. This leg weakness leads to imbalance which leads to a possible fall. Also, seniors should consider grab bars in the shower.”
“Falls can lead to a broken hip and/or concussion,” said Hadland. “This coupled with blood thinner medication can lead to death if not properly treated.”
According to its website, South County Fire lists the following to reducing falls for older adults:
- Participate in a physical activity regimen with balance, strength training, and flexibility components.
- Consult with a health professional about getting a fall risk assessment.
- Have medications reviewed periodically.
- Get eyes and ears checked annually.
- Make sure the home environment is safe and supportive.
Both the Operation Military Family Veterans in Prevention and Community Paramedic programs are supported by grants from the Verdant Health Commission. South County Fire is continually hiring for part-time Veterans in Prevention positions. To schedule a home visit or learn more about South County Fire’s falls prevention services, email email@example.com or call 425-551-1266.