(L) Tracy Garrett performs a fall-risk assessment on Wanda Smith.

Fourth Annual Event Attracts Nearly 200

 SURPRISE, ARIZ., Sept. 21, 2018 – Falls are the leading cause of injury and injury-related death in older adults. That’s sobering information. But the “good news” message at Sun Health’s 4th annual “Stand Up to Falling Down” event was that many falls can be prevented.

“We know that falls occur, and they are a problem in our communities,” Sun Health’s Exercise Physiologist and Balance Expert Rhonda Zonoozi said. “Nationwide, one in four adults over the age of 65 falls every year, according to the CDC. It is a prevalent problem, but it is not inevitable, and at Sun Health we feel like we can make a difference in people’s lives by hopefully reducing the risk of falling.”

Nearly 200 people from across the West Valley attended the event on Friday, Sept. 21 at The Colonnade, one of Sun Health’s Senior Life Plan communities.

Sun City West resident Wanda Smith, 80, regularly participates in Sun Health programs. Twice this year, Smith experienced falls caused by a neurological issue and took part in a Fall Risk Assessment, which included a four-stage balance test, a 30-second chair-stand test and a timed up-and-go test. The screenings are based on the STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, & Injuries) tool kit, a program created by the CDC to help older adults reduce their risk of falling.

“By attending the event today and getting screened, it has reinforced the importance being proactive in your health as well as being careful and staying active to help prevent falls,” Smith said. “Sun Health has been a great resource for me and after my recent fall, I was glad that I already had the assessment appointment scheduled.”

Elton Bordenave, Ph.D., M.Ed., director, A.T. Still University Center for Resilience in Aging, gave the opening remarks at the event that was hosted by the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing (Center), and included:

  • More than 100 fall-risk screenings administered by trained Sun Health staff.
  • Presentations and demonstrations by health professionals, including:
    • John Tuitele, D.P.T., from Banner Thunderbird Medical Center, who spoke on balance strategies to keep people from falling.
    • Carlos Alvarado-Valdes, M.D., from the Banner Sleep Medicine Clinic, who spoke about the connection between sleep and balance.
    • A video presentation from AZ Eye Institute, about the aging eye.
    • Dan Hewson, M.S., from Ascent Audiology, who presented “Fear in our Ears,” about how hearing may impact balance.
    • Jenny Bingham, PharmD, BCACP, from SinfoniaRx, who addressed how medications can impact balance and the risk of falling.
  • Vendors from local organizations, including Benevilla, Fixing Feet, Silver Sneakers, Northwest Valley Connect, MyFallRisk.com, as well as departments from Banner Health and Sun Health.

“We can’t cure diabetes, and we can’t cure Alzheimer’s, but, we can fight gravity,” Dr. Bordenave, a founding member of the Arizona Falls Prevention Coalition (AFPC), said. “It’s a persistent opponent, and as we age it becomes a slightly more challenging opponent. We have to be a little bit more aware of it, so it doesn’t get us. What I am really asking you do to is to become aware and to act by taking advantage all the resources that Sun Health and other organizations offer to help you remain healthy and well.”

If someone missed the event but still wants to help prevent the risk of falling, the Center provides Fall Risk Assessments for only $25. Those who are interested can call 623-832-WELL (9355) for an appointment.

“The assessments we did during the event provide our clients with valuable information they can use immediately,” AFPC member Zonoozi says. “However, the assessments we do at the Center are more detailed as I can spend more time with each individual and they include additional measurements and recommendations.”

This event has grown significantly each year and Sun Health plans to continue in 2019.

“There are many people in our community who have either fallen themselves or know someone who fell this past year, Zonoozi said. “People are interested in finding out what they can do to prevent falling in their own lives, so I think that really draws people in to learn to do whatever they can. It gives them the education and power to make changes.”

Stand Up to Falling Down is a signature program of the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing and is presented as a community service through the support of Sun Health Foundation.

“I want to thank the generous donors who support our Foundation,” Zonoozi added. “It’s the community support that allows Sun Health to offer these important events at no charge. Every year we see a bigger and bigger interest and this year we had a fantastic turnout, great vendors and wonderful presenters.”

About Sun Health

A long-standing champion of healthy living and superior health care, Sun Health is a community-based nonprofit organization providing philanthropy, senior living Life Care programs and communities (Grandview Terrace in Sun City West, La Loma Village in Litchfield Park, The Colonnade in Surprise and Sun Health at Home), and health and wellbeing services. The Sun Health Foundation is proud to serve as the exclusive fundraising arm of Banner Boswell Medical Center, Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center, and the Banner Sun Health Research Institute. Our partnership provides West Valley residents with the very best in medical care and community wellness programs to serve your needs, now and in the future. Learn more at www.sunhealth.org.

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