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Seniors: Remain Active To Reduce Falls

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Eighty-years old and active! Doris, a woman who needs a cane to walk, goes to the North Bellevue Community Center for her daily dose of physical activity in the Nintendo Wii bowling class or an Enhance Fitness exercise class. Doris knows she has to stay physically active to have a healthy and independent lifestyle, and exercise has the added benefit of reducing her chance of falling.

"The new Shape Up campaign is a great way for older adults to get plugged into free and low-cost community activity programs," said Karen Lewis Program Director, Comprehensive Health Education Foundation, a partner of the Healthy Aging Partnership organization. "The best way for seniors to reduce their chance of falling is to be physically active. Activity programs that build strength, balance and flexibility significantly reduce senior's chances of experiencing a fall."

The Shape Up campaign goal is to reduce falls in older populations through engagement in physical activity. The campaign kicks off with a series of health fairs for seniors about how to stay physically active:

* North Bellevue Community Center: September 10
* Burien Senior Community Center: September 10
* Northshore Senior Center: September 17
* Bitter Lake Community Center: September 26

These four community centers are also offering a $10 discount with a Shapeup flyer or ad for seniors on any of their group physical activity classes. Some of the classes being offered include Gold Zumba, Wii Bowling, Yoga, Aerobics, Line Dancing, and Enhance Fitness. Flyers can be found at community centers, and ads are appearing in community newspapers.

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"I'm the type of guy that needs to take a group class because I like the social atmosphere and at the same time it improves my balance and keeps me in good shape," said Ed, who is 76 years old and walks daily.

Taking part in physical activity three to five times a week can help reduce the risk for a fall. According to the Emergency Medical Services Division at Public Health-Seattle & King County, falls have a significant impact on older populations:

* Fall-related events comprised 17.4% of King County Emergency Medical Services responses among persons 65 years and older in 2008.

* About one-third of community-dwelling persons older than 65 who live in a community dwelling experience a fall each year, and most of these falls are in the home setting. Furthermore, 10 to 15% of these events result in serious injury, and half of these serious injuries are fractures.

* For elderly persons who suffer hip fracture, half require hospital discharge to a nursing home and more than a quarter die in the year following the injury.

The Shape-Up campaign is organized by the Emergency Medical Services Division of Public Health -Seattle & King County and sponsored by Soundview Medical Supplies and the Healthy Aging Partnership.