Elder residents — and anyone with an elder relative — should be well aware of how important it is to safeguard against falls.
As the body becomes more fragile, falls can become much more serious, and they often lead to other complications.
With that in mind, and with September being National Falls Prevention Month, the town’s Fire Department and Health Department are operating a Falls Prevention Clinic on Sept. 22 from noon-4 p.m. at the Hopkinton Senior Center.
The clinic is for elderly residents as well as those with any type of disability.
“We’ll evaluate basically how they walk, and also evaluate different things, like their medications,” explained Hopkinton firefighter/paramedic Jim Frederick. “We’ll have a pharmacist and a couple of doctors there, and we’re going to do medication evaluations — looking at different medications that could cause them to fall if they become dizzy or light-headed, something that makes their blood pressure or heart rate decrease. We’ll look at what they’re using for mobility — walkers, canes, wheelchairs. We’ll have podiatry that’s going to be there to evaluate their feet if we find it’s an actual foot problem. We’ll have physical therapy there to help with exercises to strengthen them if that’s where they get sent to. If they need to have appointments made at the end, we’re going to assist them to get appointments made with the right people.
“So, it’s to help prevent falls and prevent the elderly from having to go to the hospital.”
The clinic is part of the broader Community EMS program, for which the town received approval from the state’s Office of Emergency Medical Services last month.
“Community EMS is to help better the safety of the people in the town,” Frederick said. “It’s looking at falls and also if people [who have an accident or injury] refuse to go to the hospital, doing followups with them. We’re also looking at the mental health aspect, people who are struggling and trying to assist them in different ways, and looking at well-being checks — sometimes people don’t answer their family within a certain period of time, so we’re trying to assist with that type of stuff as well.”
Frederick noted that some emergency rooms are getting overwhelmed with visits, and oftentimes people don’t require those services.
“Our hospitals overall are getting inundated to the point where there’s anywhere from a 6-12-hour wait,” he said. “So, we’re trying to help with education, stuff like that. Sometimes people with bumps and bruises or minor cuts go to urgent care. We can help with evaluations and then determine if people really need the emergency room.”
On the other hand, there are people who refuse to even see a doctor, for a variety of reasons.
“Those who don’t want to go to the doctor, we’re following through and checking in on them,” Frederick said.
More clinics will be forthcoming, and there are additional services the town offers. For example, paramedics will visit a person’s home and do a home safety evaluation. They’ll look for dangers such as a throw rug that lacks an anti-skid mat, which makes it a fall hazard. They’ll check walkers to make sure they are at the right height and pitched in the proper direction. They’ll even make sure a toilet safety seat is set up properly.
“We’ll come and do a fall prevention checklist, go through it, make recommendations, and help them if they need assistance making appointments,” Frederick said.
The program also will make use of a clinician from Advocates, who is part of the Police Department’s mental health team.
There will be a signup sheet at the Falls Prevention Clinic for those interested in having a home safety evaluation. Individuals concerned about an elderly relative’s safety also can reach out and ask for help.
“We’re trying to help with [safety] education,” Frederick said. “It’s looking at the safety for the residents of the town and trying to make sure they can keep their independence, which is really important to them.”
Green Committee hosts Cleanup Day
The town’s Sustainable Green Committee is planning a Community Cleanup Day on Saturday, Sept. 25, from 9 a.m.-noon., starting at the Town Common.
Committee members Bob Gilbert and Peggy Barton are leading the effort.
“The purpose is to take pride in the town, to beautify it before the Boston Marathon, and also to remind people of the Green Committee,” explained Gilbert, who has been active in volunteer circles since he retired and moved to town last fall.
Volunteers are requested to RSVP at bit.ly/HopCleanup and should bring their own water to the event. The committee will provide gloves and bags, and indicate the areas on which they are focusing, including the Town Common, Main Street and the schools.
E.L. Harvey, one of the event’s sponsors, donated about 30 bright green shirts that will go to the first-arriving volunteers. The Department of Public Works will assist in picking up the garbage bags.
“It’s free, and we invite everyone and anyone,” Gilbert said. “It’s to make Hopkinton beautiful.”