As Closing the Gap recognizes the third year of Fall Prevention Month, we continuously strive to raise awareness of this important health risk that the elderly and physically limited populations face every day. Fall prevention is a collaborative effort between family members and the healthcare community. Together, we can make sure that our parents, grandparents, and family members are safe no matter where they are. Here are some important things we can all do to help lower the risk of falling.
Promoting a Healthy and Active Lifestyle
We don’t tend to associate the elderly with physical fitness, but it’s high time we start to recognize the absolute importance of staying active as we age. Eating right and exercising is even more important for the elderly, as it increases strength, improves circulation, prevents the loss of bone mass, and significantly lowers the risk of developing certain diseases. When we’re younger, our bodies are naturally more capable of fending off disease and bouncing back from slips and falls, but as we age, improving balance and bone strength becomes increasingly important. Of course, remember to exercise judgement and make sure you only perform physical activities that you are capable of doing that won’t increase risk of injury.
Eliminating Fall Hazards in the Home
It is crucial that hazards are removed from the home or anywhere your family member tends to move around. Removing clutter, such as area rugs, floor lamps, and excess furniture creates a clear walking path and ensures that your family member won’t accidentally trip over something. Making sure that they have ready access to their walking aid from their favourite chair or part of the house will make sure they are safe at all times. Common tripping and slipping hazards including:
- Cables and wires
- Curtains that trail on the floor
- Bed posts
- Wet floors
- Uneven floors
- Narrow stairs
- Clutter and poor lighting
Encouraging Proper Use of Walking Aids
It’s very common for our elderly family members to deny their dependence on walkers, canes, and wheelchairs. Admitting their limited mobility is sometimes akin to ceding part of their freedom. However, falling could be a much worse alternative, especially if it leads to a break or fracture. Encourage your family member to use their walking aids by being firm but understanding and reminding them of the benefits of being able to walk farther, longer, and safer. Falls are the most common cause of injury among the elderly and account for $2 billion in direct healthcare costs annually in Canada.
An essential part of safe healthcare in the home is ensuring that your family member’s surroundings do not pose any risks to their health. Together, we can all do our part to help them live happy and fulfilling lives while staying safe and free from harm. If your loved one experiences dizziness or vertigo from their medication or some other health issue, ask their doctor if there is something that can be done to help minimize these side effects. For more information, visit the Fall Prevention Month website.