Anyone can fall. But as we age, our risk of falling increases. Falls are the leading cause of injuries among Canadians 65 years and over.
In fact, they account for 85% of seniors’ injury-related hospitalizations, making falls the leading cause of injury-related admissions for seniors. The average Canadian senior has to stay in the hospital ten days longer for falls than for any other reason.
Approximately half of the falls that lead to hospitalization among older persons occur at home. The bathroom and stairs are particularly hazardous due to the risk of slipping, tripping, and stumbling. That’s the bad news.
The good news is there are ways to implement fall prevention!
The first step to avoiding falls is to understand what causes them. The causes of falls are known as risk factors. No single risk factor causes falls, but the more risk factors there are, the greater the probability of a fall. Seasons Retirement Communities are dedicated to helping you reduce your chances of falling by following a few simple guidelines.
Your independence and well-being are at stake, so take action by reviewing our fall prevention tips below!
Nutritious meals keep up strength, resistance and balance. Therefore, try to maintain a diet that consists of protein-rich and calcium-fortified foods. These nutrients are good for your bone strength and energy levels, preventing weakness in certain areas of your body and preventing issues like dizziness. Such nutrients are found in fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy products.
As well, make sure to eat steady meals daily. If you skip meals, you may feel dizzy or disoriented, which can cause you to lose your balance and fall.
Engage in physical activity every day — it’s your best defence against falls! Walking regularly, climbing stairs, and engaging in activities like Pilates and Tai Chi can all help you maintain your flexibility and balance. Investing in a reliable, comfortable pair of walking shoes can also assist in preventing falling-related injuries.
Additionally, you can build your muscle and bone strength by doing “resistance” activities or exercises such as weight lifting and resistance band training.* All of the above are great fall-prevention exercises that can be adapted to suit any fitness level.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist about possible prescription or over-the-counter medication side effects. Read directions carefully to ensure you know potential reactions to other medications.
If your medication causes dizziness or sleepiness, adjust your schedule and activities to reduce the risk of falling. Also, don’t mix alcohol and medications. Alone or in combination with other drugs, alcohol can cause falls.
Another important aspect of fall prevention is using personal safety aids. If a healthcare professional recommends it, wear your glasses and hearing aid and consider using a walker or cane.
If you use a cane, ensure it’s the correct height and rubber-tipped for safety.
There are many other gadgets available that can make your life safer: reachers, anti-skid soles, hip protectors, etc., are all helpful tools that can increase your personal safety!
If you’re out and about, keep your hands free of items that could impede your balance. For instance, instead of carrying a strappy purse, you could use a shoulder bag or backpack to ensure your hands are free to hold onto railings and handles.
Implementing fall prevention for seniors can be as simple as monitoring the weather conditions. Checking the weather before you go outside is beneficial all year round, but it’s imperative during winter.
If it’s heavily raining or snowing outside, stay indoors when possible. If you have errands, ask a friend or family member to run them for you. Or, if you have appointments booked, see if you can reschedule them for another day.
Of course, if you have the proper footwear for such weather, venturing outdoors may pose less of a risk. However, if you decide to go out during bad weather, ask a family member or friend to accompany you to ensure that you have help nearby (should you suffer a fall).
If you’re experiencing issues with your vision or hearing, it can significantly increase the risk of falls, as being fully aware of your surroundings is crucial to personal safety. Therefore, if you’re noticing issues in these areas, book an appointment with a doctor to check your eyes and hearing.
If you already have prescriptions for your eyes or ears, wear your glasses and/or hearing aids regularly, especially when venturing out of the home. Having a friend or family member to assist you when you run errands or other activities can help you better avoid hazards.
Lastly, ensuring a good night’s sleep is essential to fall prevention. If you’re tired, you are likely to be less aware of your senses and, therefore, your surroundings, which makes you more likely to suffer a fall.
If you struggle with insomnia, consult your doctor for methods to assist with your sleeplessness to ensure your mind is sharp and aware during the day. By finding ways to improve your sleep cycle, you’ll be less susceptible to falling!
Seniors who fall may limit their activities for fear of falling again, but by limiting activities, they are likely to lose strength and flexibility and increase their risk of falling again.
Maintaining overall physical health is essential to implementing fall prevention in long-term care. Be sure to speak to your family doctor or the Health & Wellness Manager at Seasons for more ideas to help you prevent falls and stay healthy!
*Always consult your doctor before you embark on an exercise program.