Falls can have devastating consequences for older Canadians. In fact, Falls were the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations among people aged 65 or older. They are the leading cause of injury among older Canadians, with a staggering 20-30% of seniors experiencing one or more falls each year. What's even more alarming is that falls are responsible for 85% of seniors' injury-related hospitalizations and 95% of all hip fractures. Also important to note, falls that occurred in residential care accounted for 17% of all fall-related hospitalizations, while falls that happen at home account for 50% of hospitalizations due to falls. The reality is that older adults are most at risk for a fall at home where they spend most of their time.
Falls are not only a serious risk to your health and well-being, but they can also disrupt your day-to-day life. The average hospital stay in Canada after a fall takes a full 10 days longer than for any other reason for hospitalization for older adults. It's estimated that approximately one-third of older adults are admitted to long-term care following hospitalization for a fall. The consequence a of fall can be life-changing. They can result in chronic pain, reduced mobility, loss of independence, and in some tragic cases, even death.
Why Are Falls Such A Serious Issue For Seniors?
We shared these statistics not to scare anybody but to raise awareness and educate people on the risk factors for falling and more importantly, how to prevent them. There’s the good news! Almost all falls among seniors are completely preventable.
While it's true that falls are on the rise (65% increase in deaths due to falls between 2003-2008), it's very important to know that this trend does not have to be the rule. There are so many things that can be done to prevent falls and minimize the impact they cause if they do happen. Falling doesn’t need to be an inevitable part of aging. Instead, it can be viewed as a challenge that can be met and overcome through knowledge, preparedness, and the right resources!
The Good News About Fall Prevention?
What Contributes To Falls?
Well, there isn’t one thing that solely contributes to an increased risk of experiencing a fall as a senior. Rather, it’s a mix of various elements ranging from lifestyle choices and external factors. Here are a few common contributors to fall risks that you should be aware of:
Behavioural Risk Factors
Risky behaviours, such as ignoring physical limitations or taking unnecessary risks, can lead to falls.
Making sure that equipment like canes or walkers are well-maintained and fitted correctly is crucial for fall prevention.
Footwear and Clothing
Opt for comfortable and supportive footwear with rubber/ non-slip soles. Loose clothing can also act as a tripping hazard.
A poor diet can weaken your bones and muscles. Make sure to ensure a balanced diet rich in nutrients that support bone & muscle health.
Some medications can cause dizziness or affect balance. Consult a healthcare provider to review your medication regimen and see if any may contribute to your risk of falls. Some medications are must be taken to manage a chronic condition, but might have negative effects on your balance. Taking medication on time as prescribed by your doctor is still the most important thing. If this is the case, there are still plenty of other things that can be done to help prevent falls.
Excessive Alcohol & Isolation
Too much alcohol consumption can impair balance and coordination. While social isolation has been found to also be highly associated with a higher risk of falling.
As Canadians, we know all too well the falling risks that accompany our snowy winters. Ice makes the ground extremely slippery. Make sure to take it slow, wear proper winter boots, keep walking areas clear of snow and ice, and watch your step.
What Can Be Done To Significantly Reduce The Risk Of A Senior Falling?
Thankfully, there are so many preventative measures seniors can easily take to both avoid falls and better protect themselves in the event of a fall. Here are just a few
Regular physical activity can improve balance and strength, reducing your risk of falling. Activities like Tai Chi, walking or even stretching go a long way. Exercising also has benefits outside of improving your balance. It can improve your physical and mental health, which can have a very positive effect on somebodies quality of life.
Vision and Hearing Checks
Regular eye and ear check-ups are super important for preventing falls. Good vision and hearing can help seniors navigate their environment safely and go a long way in improving their balance.
Personal Emergency Response Systems (Medical Alert)
These medical devices offer immediate assistance in the event of a fall. They also offer peace of mind to seniors and their families, knowing that help is just a button press away.
Remove clutter and any other tripping hazards like loose rugs. Also, make sure each room is well-lit and use devices at night to illuminate dark hallways and rooms.
Keep an up-to-date list of medications and consult healthcare providers about any potential side effects or interactions. Additionally, medication dispensers can be a great tool to help ensure you take the medication you need to stay in tip-top shape.
Falls and their consequences for seniors are certainly serious, but they are not inevitable. Increased awareness, taking proactive measures, and reaching out for the right resources and tools are great steps toward decreasing your risk of falls. November is fall prevention month, so make sure you stay alert for useful information and tips. The ability to prevent unnecessary falls and improve their outcomes is in our hands (and feet). So let’s put on our proper prescription glasses, slip on our non-slip shoes and make sure our emergency response plans are ready to ensure our safety.
Don't miss out on Lifeline
This fall prevention month, we’re offering a FREE month of our fall detection service to new subscribers. Lifeline has been proven to help mitigate the negative impacts that are often caused due to serious falls. The faster you can get help, the better the outcome. Give us a call or visit our websites to see if Victoria Lifeline is the right solution to help keep you safe and independent.
This article is meant to be informational in nature and should not replace the advice of a trained healthcare professional or financial professional. What works for some individuals, might be harmful to others. Consult a professional before making any significant changes.
Blog by: Maor Tsitrin, Marketing & Communications Assistant