Wednesday, September 23 is the eighth annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), and the Guy Thompson Community Center will recognize the day on Thursday with free health screenings, fall prevention and recovery education, exercise demonstrations and other activities.

According to the NCOA, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. Every 15 seconds, an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury in the United States. Jimmie Melvin, Sandy Ridge marketing director said, “The seminar basically is to make our seniors more aware of things they can do to prevent that fall so they aren’t in that situation such as exercises they can do to keep their muscles and bones strong.”

Demonstrations for the day include tai chi and chair yoga. Also, Ginny Hinton, with the University of Florida IFAS Extension in the Family and Consumer Sciences and Nutrition Program, will teach healthy eating habits. Hinton said, “We know nutrition has a lot to do with balance and (Falls Prevention Day) will cover nutrition from my plate…We know older adults tend to eat alone and about a third live alone. We all tend to grab what’s quick and easy and when you live alone it’s hard to cook for one…so what we try to do is offer options that are quick and easy and healthy and yogurt parfaits are one of those. (They take) less than a minute and you get your dairy, whole grains, and vitamins from fruit.” Hinton said she’ll be showing her own parfait and talking about it and attendees will be able to make their own.

Several organizations will have representatives, such as Covenant Hospice, Sandy Ridge Health and Rehabilitation, Santa Rosa County Department of Health, Santa Rosa Medical Center Volunteer Program, Retired Senior Volunteer Program and more.

Attendees will have the opportunity to meet two new doctors at SRMC, Dr. David Wartenberg and Dr. Ann Gwinnup. Amanda Saveikonis, SRMC director of marketing and business development said, “This is an excellent opportunity for both doctors to meet the community for which they’re serving. Doctors Wartenberg and Gwinnup are both family medical physicians.” She said they also specialize in chronic illnesses, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, which can contribute to falls. Saveikonis said she felt Wartenberg would be good for the expo for his holistic approach and open dialogue, while she felt Gwinnup would be good for her women’s health expertise.

Licensed Physical Therapist Perlas Sanborn, will also have a seminar from 11 a.m. to noon on preventing falls. She said she’ll be presenting on causes of falls, decreasing risks and learning what kind of resources are available in the area on falls. Sanborn said she’ll be working with attendees in their areas of weaknesses such as balancing. “There is no lecturing in my seminars,” she said.

Thursday is the event at the Guy Thompson Community Center from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is free to attend, but organizers require registration by calling 983-5220.