Preventing Falls In The Elderly
Statistics show that 1/3 to ½ of persons over the age of 65 fall at least once per year. Falls account for 65% of injuries to the elderly every year. It is estimated that falls among the seniors population cost Canada's health system $2.8 billion annually.
The two main factors that contribute to a fall are:
- The person (yourself)
- Visual changes
- Cardiovascular conditions (blood pressure fluctuations that cause dizziness)
- Side effects of medications or adverse interactions of medications
- Use of alcohol
- Musculoskeletal conditions such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, foot disorders or problems with balance and walking
- The environment (everything else)
- Poor lighting in the home and outdoors
- Unsafe shoes
- Slippery floors
- Poorly maintained pathways/sidewalk
Tips to Avoid Falls:
- Participate in physical activities that maintain your balance and walking pattern. Specific exercises can target these skills
- Wear safe shoes which have a good fit, low heels and a sole that grips
- Have adequate lighting and think about night lights or motions sensor lights near stairs and bathrooms
- Secure or remove loose mats or rugs
- Wipe up spills immediately
- Keep electric cords, telephone cords, newspapers and other clutter out of walkways.
- Use adhesive non-slip surfaces in the shower/bath
- Install grab rails in the bathroom (towel rails are not strong enough!)
- Have broken or cracked paths or patios repaired
- Ensure good lighting on outside steps
- Have your eyes tested annually
- Improve cognition by working on awareness of surroundings and any physical obstacles that you may face in your environment
- Ask your doctor about how to manage your medications and the possible side effects that they may bring.
- If required, use a walking aid such as a cane or walker.
For more information on this topic and many other seniors related topics, call Reference Canada at 1-800-667-3355.
Author: Chystal Peluso, Rehab Assisstant CVH. Information adapted from Reference Canada.