Falls are the leading cause of injury, resulting in 85% of injury-related hospitalization. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 20-30% of people in Canada 65+ will experience one or more falls per year.
The good news is that falls are preventable! November is Fall Prevention Month, so we’re sharing information to help seniors and their caregivers become more aware of the potentials risks, and share tips that can lower the risk. Below are a few minor tweaks you can make at home, to your habits and personal care to help prevent falls and subsequent injury.
First, why do we fall? Well, there are many reasons, but for seniors the primary causes are physical. As we get older our eyesight weakens, we lose muscle strength and flexibility, our reflexes begin to slow and we may become confused or disoriented due to dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Ways to Prevent Falls
Use Assistive Devices: Mobility devices like canes and walkers, or railings, which can keep you stable while climbing stairs, are very helpful. They assist you by maintaining balance thanks to multiple points of contact with the floor so that you stay upright. A physician or physical therapist can help you determine the best device for your needs and lifestyle.
Stay Active: Research shows that regular physical activity is beneficial and excellent at fall prevention. Swimming, walking, yoga, Tai chi or weight training all increase your strength by maintaining or improving muscularity and develop your ability to balance. Plus, physical activity can help keep you social, too. What are you waiting for? Get a friend and go for a swim!
Plug in the Lights: One of the easiest preventative measures is to ensure that living spaces are well lit. Visibility allows seniors to maintain their balance and see any obstacles in their path. Install lights around the house with large on/off switches, and plug in automatic nightlights that turn on once the surrounding area gets dark. Lighting at the top and bottom of stairs can help prevent missed steps.
Slip-proof Shoes: Your favourite bunny slippers may be perfectly worn in, but their slick soles could be a falling hazard. Consider choosing a well-fitted, sturdy shoe with non-skid soles.
Armed with these tips it should be easy (and even fun!) to make a few minor changes in your life, or that of a loved one, to help significantly decrease fall risk and subsequent injury. If you need more tips, someone to bounce your own ideas off of, or a friend to talk to, we are just a call away.