Don’t slip up

The problem of falls is significant, and the Los Angeles County Department of Community and Senior Services wants to remind people to watch where they step during the annual Fall Prevention Awareness Week, which runs through Sept. 27.

According to data from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, more than 17,000 Angelenos age 65 and older in 2006 were hospitalized for fall-related injuries. In 2007, more than 5,200 older adults 65-plus in Los Angeles County were hospitalized for hip fractures, a potentially deadly consequence of falls. 

That same year, the hip fracture hospitalization rate in the county for men was 321 per 100,000 persons hospitalized and for women 609 per 100,000. For women, this is significantly higher than the Healthy People 2010 target of 416 per 100,000.

During Fall Prevention Awareness Week, the Area Agency on Aging will collaborate with the Fall Prevention Coalition — Los Angeles to educate seniors and the community regarding fall prevention strategies.     

“Many falls can be avoided” says Dr. Jon Pynoos, co-director of the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence at the University of Southern California, Andrus Gerontology Center. “In addition to substantial health care costs, falls can take a serious toll on older adults.”    

Although the risk of falls increases dramatically with age, falls are not inevitable and can be reduced by interventions including:

• Regular physical activity to increase balance, strength, and flexibility

• A fall risk assessment by a health professional

• Modifications to minimize fall risk in the home

During the week, the coalition will educate older Angelinos and service providers about ways to reduce fall risk with posters, handouts, and place mats in community centers, senior housing, congregate meal sites, medical centers, and hospitals. Coalition member organizations will host educational presentations, blood pressure screenings, balance assessments, and medication reviews during the week.

This year, a National Fall Prevention Awareness Day has been established for the first day of fall. On Sept. 22, more than 21 states will join California in promoting fall prevention. 

For additional information visit the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence’s Web site, or contact Emily Nabors at (213) 740-1364 or


Turn the page


Chris Cleave’s novel “Little Bee,” is the featured book for the 2010 Santa Monica Citywide Reads program, which invites everyone to read and discuss the same novel in book clubs and other special events held around the city. This year marks the eighth anniversary of the program.

The second novel by emerging literary talent Cleave, “Little Bee” is the harrowing and beautiful story of a teenage Nigerian refugee and a married pair of disaffected British journalists, whose lives and destinies collide in unexpected and shocking ways.

Touching on themes of immigration, family, infidelity and loyalty, the book deftly examines the intricacies of human connection and the sacrifices we all make to get by in life. The New York Times calls the book “immensely readable and moving … an affecting story of human triumph.”

The novel was shortlisted in 2008 for the Costa Book Award for Best Novel and in 2009 for Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book. Film rights for the book were recently optioned by Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman.

A columnist for The Guardian newspaper, Chris lives in London with his wife and two mischievous children. 

Santa Monica Citywide Reads will take place from Feb. 6 to March 6, 2010, and will feature several free public book discussion groups held throughout the city. Related special events, including a presentation by Cleave, are also being planned.

For more information about Citywide Reads, visit or call the Santa Monica Public Library at (310) 458-8600.

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