Preventing Falls: Mission Possible
Each year, one in three older Canadians will fall at least once, reports Health Canada. Hip fractures top the list of injuries. About one-fifth of injury-related deaths among seniors are due to a fall. But it’s not all doom and gloom, says Jane Hall, an occupational therapist with Baycrest’s Falls Prevention Program.
“Falls are not inevitable; they are not caused by aging, and they are not accidents. Often, falls result from a combination of factors, many of which are preventable.”
Anything from your physical surroundings to vision and balance problems to a lack of social support can set you up for a fall.
Environmental risks include lack of hand rails, obstacles, unsafe stairs, lack of rest areas and poor lighting.
Biological reasons include health conditions such as Parkinson’s, stroke, a drop in blood pressure when you quickly move from lying to sitting, or sitting to standing, arthritis and osteoporosis, poor hearing and vision problems, which include reduced contrast sensitivity (being less able to make out edges).
Behavioural factors are risky behaviours that result from cognitive decline, inattention, slowed mental processing speed, medications that decrease alertness, and inappropriate use of aids like walkers. “For example, some people use their walker when they’re out, but park it like a car once they get home,” explains Hall.
Fall-Proof Your Home
- Remove scatter rugs, which are a tripping hazard.
- Put hand rails on stairwells and grab bars in bathrooms for extra support; use a rubber tub mat.
- Clear out clutter so it’s easier to navigate around the home.
- Increase lighting, especially making sure hallways and stairwells are well-lit; install nightlights.
Courtesy of Baycrest, the global leader in innovations, research and breakthroughs for the journey of aging.