November is Fall Prevention Month in Canada. It is an important campaign that encourages organizations and individuals to come together and coordinate fall prevention efforts for a larger impact.
As an older adult you play an important role in the community and falling can lead to a host of potentially life-threatening issues. According to the Fall Prevention Month website falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults. The average Canadian senior will spend 10 days longer in the hospital for falls than any other cause and falls account for $2 billion in direct health care costs annually.
Over 1/3 of older adults will be admitted to long term care homes after being hospitalized for a fall.
That being said there is no reason to live your life in fear of a fall. Here are some important tips and strategies from the Mayo Clinic that will help decrease your risk of falling and ensure you continue to live a healthy life free of unnecessary injury.
Keep in touch with your doctor
You doctor will have a lot of information that will help you create a concrete fall prevention plan.
Make sure you are aware of all medications you are taking and if their side effects or interactions might increase your chance of falling. If possible, get your doctor to help wean you off any medications that might make you drowsy or affect your balance.
Your doctor will also be able to identify if you have any health conditions that could increase your risk of falling. Certain eye and ear disorders may increase your risk of falls. Be honest with your doctor about how comfortable you are when you walk. Do you ever have dizzy spells, joint pain, shortness of breath, or numbness in your feet and legs when you walk? You doctor will also be able to evaluation your muscle strength, balance and gait and suggest possible ways of addressing these issues to decrease your risk of falling. You doctor may suggest using assistive devices like canes or walkers than can help keep you steady and prevent falling.
Physical activity can go a long way in helping with fall prevention. Gentle activities like walking, water aerobics or tai chi reduce the risk of falling by improving strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.
If you tend to avoid physical activity because you are afraid of falling working with a professional might be a good idea.
A physical therapist will be able to create an exercise program that is safe and will help with your balance, flexibility, muscle strength and gait.
Wear sensible shoes
The type of shoes your wear can contribute immensely to your risk of having a fall. High heels, flip flops or shoes with slick soles can make you slip and stumble, leading to falling. Consider purchasing footwear that are sturdy, fit properly and have non-skid soles. Sensible shoes may also reduce joint pain.
De-clutter your home
Make sure that your home is free of hazards that could make you trip and fall.:
- Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways.
- Move coffee tables, magazine racks and plant stands from high-traffic areas.
- Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks or a slip-resistant backing — or remove loose rugs from your home.
- Repair loose, wooden floorboards and carpeting right away.
- Store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach.
- Immediately clean spilled liquids, grease or food.
- Use nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower or use a bath seat, which allows you to sit while showering.
Light up your living space
Make sure your home is well lit to avoid tripping over objects that are hard to see.
- Place night lights in your bedroom, bathroom and hallways.
- Place a lamp within reach of your bed for middle-of-the-night needs.
- Make clear paths to light switches that aren't near room entrances. Consider trading traditional switches for glow-in-the-dark or illuminated switches.
- Turn on the lights before going up or down stairs.
- Store flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages.
BONUS TIP: Is your home part of the problem?
The cost of a fall to your health, and lifestyle can be very high. If your home is difficult to navigate, it might be wise to downsize to a smaller, or more accessible home.
There are companies that specialize in not only helping you with the moving process, but also identifying your needs, and finding you a residence that is more suited to your current lifestyle.
If you are in the Ottawa area, we would be more than happy to give you a free estimate!
Taking these simple steps will help ensure that you are safe from unnecessary falls. It may take a little bit of effort but following these tips will help make sure you live a happy, healthy life as you age.
Category: General, Activities