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.

 

Credit Valley Hospital