July 6th is National Injury Prevention Day. The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reports that unintentional falls are the #1 reason for injury-related hospitalizations for Canadian seniors (age 65+), representing 81% of their 137,500 hospital entries (April 1 2017 – March 31, 2018).
A fall can have a devastating and lasting impact on a person, resulting in injury, chronic pain and a reduced quality of life. Even without an injury, a fall can cause an older adult to lose confidence and reduce their activities.
Causes of Falls and Ways to Prevent Them
Poor balance, decreased muscle and bone strength, reduced vision, and unsafe conditions in and around your home can increase your chance of falling.
Making adjustments to your home, eating well, staying fit, and using assistance devices can keep you safe and help to prevent falls.
Improve Your Balance and Strength
Exercising to build balance and strength is your best defence against falls. The Peachland Wellness Centre Tai Chi program might be perfect for you as a way to improve your balance, coordination and flexibility. Build your muscle and bone strength by doing “resistance” activities; however, consult your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Take advantage of our beautiful weather to spend time in your garden, or stroll along our beachfront. Make sure you wear well-fitted, sturdy shoes with anti-skid soles, and consider using a cane or other mobility device if needed. If you use a cane, make sure that it's the correct height and that it's rubber-tipped for safety.
Vision Checks and Self Care
Vision changes; such as, trouble seeing at night, more time needed for our eyes to adjust from bright to dark, and sensitivity to glare may occur as we grow older. Tint-changing lenses when going indoors from outside can be problematic. Remember to change glasses upon entry or wait until lenses adjust before moving around. Remove your reading glasses when you go up or down the stairs.
Have regular eye exams by an eye doctor to determine need for prescription changes or identification of age-related eye diseases, and remember to keep your glasses clean.
Take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, and taking your time when getting up from bed or a chair. Manage and review your medications with your pharmacist or doctor as some may make you dizzy. If your medication causes dizziness or sleepiness, adjust your activities so you aren't at risk of falling.Don’t miss meals, as this too can cause weakness and dizziness, and remember to stay hydrated.
Keep Your Home Safe
Half of all injuries from falls happen at home. You can reduce the risk of injury by making simple changes to your home, such as:
Make sure you have proper lighting in hallways, stairs, and walkways as well as in the bedroom and bathroom.
Ensure you have non-slip surfaces in the tub and shower
Keep stairs free of clutter and exterior stairs and walkways free of clutter, ice or snow.
Install hand rails along stairs and safety grab bars in the bathroom.
Check your home for slipping and tripping hazards like loose wires and cords, and use non-slip mats or rugs.
Ensure regularly used kitchen items are within reach, and store heavy items in lower cupboards.
Wipe up moisture and spills immediately
Through these practical lifestyle changes, you can substantially reduce your chance of injury.
The Peachland Wellness Centre Outreach Services can visit you in your home to help you assess the risk factors as well as providing suggestions or referrals for reducing risks. Call the PWC Monday to Friday 9 am to 3 pm at (250) 767-0141 to speak to a Services Coordinator.