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How to help your kupuna prevent falls

By Mahealani Richardson
Published On: Feb 27 2013 07:06:55 PM HST

Falls are the number one cause of deadly injury in Hawaii.

HONOLULU -

Falls are the top cause of deadly injury in Hawaii, and it's especially critical for seniors.

There are three things seniors should know in terms of fall prevention -- what to do when you are falling, how to get up and what to do to prevent a fall in the first place.

At 15 Craigside, the new campaign for this Nuuanu retirement community is "Whoa Go Slow."

"I see the number one reason for falling is rushing," said 15 Craigside Wellness Manager Keleka Ho'okano.

Ho'okano takes the seniors through a series of exercises to prevent a spill.

"It's so important that we walk -- heel, toe -- because what happens, especially when we get older, is we start to drag our toes," said Ho'okano.

There's leg lifts to strengthen muscles.

"If you are falling, that muscle is going to help catch -- prevent you from actually going down," said Ho'okano.

There's a lot of ankle stretches to relieve tired joints and stepping exercises to improve balance.

Eighty-two-year-old Eileen Maeshiro has osteoporosis and hit her head during a series of falls.

"I tripped by the elevator.  I hurried.  I tripped," said Maeshiro.  "And another time I fell in the parking lot.  The wind knocked me over."

But, Maeshiro didn't let those accidents keep her down.

"Mostly elderly people, when they have a fall, they tend to limit their activity after the fall, which is what we are trying not to do," said Ho'okano.  "Get back on the horse, as they say."

Ho'okano gave us a lesson in what to do during a worst-case scenario.

"So, we want to protect the head and we want to roll.  And we want to roll down with the fall onto our back," said Ho'okano.  "You are going to roll over onto the side; doesn't matter which way you are going.  Crawl over to the chair.  Bring your hand up to the chair and you are going to push yourself back up."

Experts say if you fall and still feel OK, call your doctor anyway and always try to stay active.

Click here for more tips on how to prevent falls.

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