Fall Prevention Month: Helping prevent senior falls across Canada

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Fall Prevention Month

Helping prevent senior falls across Canada

As the official Fall Prevention Month Campaign says: we all have a role to play this November in raising awareness of the importance of preventing falls for both adults and children across Canada. A particular focus of the campaign is on seniors due to falls being the leading cause of injury among older Canadians. Check out these statistics provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada:

– 20-30% of seniors experience one or more falls each year.
– Falls are the cause of 85% of seniors’ injury-related hospitalizations.
– Falls are the cause of 95% of all hip fractures.
– 50% of all falls causing hospitalization take place at home.

Why do Seniors Fall?

While it’s true that fall prevention is critical across the entire population, a particular focus is placed on seniors because as we age, our risk of falling increases. This happens as a result of several processes occurring in our bodies, which lead to:

– Our balance decreasing
– Reduced muscle and bone strength
– Reduced vision and/or hearing

As the first step to preventing falls is understanding what causes them, it’s key that seniors take stock of the changes taking place as they age so that they can work to counteract them, acting preventatively to prevent falls rather than having to suffer the effects of one.

The importance of preventing falls among seniors

Ontario falls infographic

Unintentional Falls Are the Leading Cause of Injury for Ontarians Aged 65 & Over.

As we age and our bodies change, so does our probability of falling. However, what can be even worse than a fall is the effect it can have on a seniors’ life, as a fall can impact health, independence, and confidence.

Though the main physical consequences are often what spring to mind, including serious soft-tissue damage and even broken bones, especially hips, the psychological effects of a fall can also be severe and life-altering. From lowered confidence to a loss of the feeling of safety, these effects can further reduce health, mobility and activity levels, meaning that a senior may never quite recover from the consequences of a single fall.

This makes it all the more crucial to raise awareness of the effects of falls and the importance of preventing them!

How to prevent the risk of falls for seniors

The two main factors that contribute to senior falls are health and the environment, particularly your home. Now that you know how disastrous a fall can be, it’s time to start taking steps to prevent falls by making any necessary adjustments to your home and lifestyle. 

helping fall prevention

Health factors

Though there’s not much you can do about your body changing as you age, there are certainly things that can be done to reduce the effects of ageing. This may include getting regular hearing / visual checks and wearing any necessary aids but also spans taking care of your health in general by eating well, staying fit and active and actively working to improve your balance. By doing a few exercises every day to work on your balance, you can ensure it doesn’t decrease too rapidly and keep your muscles working, keeping you strong, stable and active for that much longer. Here’s a handy list of balance exercises to get you started.

Environmental factors

In addition to making sure you’re keeping active and healthy, there are many things that can be done around a house to remove obstacles, hazards, and potential dangers, keeping everyone safer, especially ageing seniors. The best way to decide on the home modifications required is to carry out a home assessment to detect hazardous areas and then take steps to remove the danger. This may include adding non-slip surfaces to bathrooms, grab-bars to stairs and uneven surfaces, reducing clutter, and ensuring good lighting around the whole house, especially any stairs and the front entrance.

Preventing the risk of falls on stairs

It may seem obvious, but it’s an area so often overlooked that it’s worth saying time and again: stairs are dangerous, especially if they’re poorly designed to start with. For starters, every staircase should have a handrail on both sides, clear, bright lighting and an even (non-slip) tread surface, but even if they have all these features, they can still pose a hazard, especially for residents with reduced mobility. As such, preventing falls on stairs is a particular area of concern.

preventing risk on stairs

However, there comes a time when simply preventing falls isn’t enough, and a staircase becomes unsafe, often becoming a barrier in a home for residents uncomfortable or unable to use them safely. When this time comes, something needs to be done, requiring stairs to be re-designed or modified as we age to accommodate our changing needs. These modifications may be to the stairs themselves, such as having ramps or a stairlift installed, or may be implemented as a way to get around the stairs altogether.

How a Homelift could help prevent falls

If stairs have become a problem, one popular solution is a Homelift. Requiring no pit or shaft, residential elevators can be installed in any room of a house by a professional, experienced team keen to prevent falls as much as we possibly can by bypassing the stairs altogether, keeping seniors safe while allowing them to live in their homes for years to come.

As a mobility company, Cambridge Elevating has been aware of the importance of decreasing falls for many years, and are proud to provide a solution to keep us all safer as we age.

This month we’ll be a featured exhibitor at “Home Is Where The Heart Is”, an Age In Place conference hosted by the Canadian Occupational Therapist Association. This learning event will be a forum to share ideas for creating age in place opportunities and will be attended by thought leaders, professionals, advocates, and older adults and caregivers who are living the aging experience.

As they say, it takes a community to prevent a fall, so let’s keep raising awareness to protect our communities!

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