Avoid Injuries From Unnecessary Falls
By: Tracy Griffin
In Canada, a senior endures a fall every 12 seconds. While falls can happen at any time or place, most are preventable. As we head into winter, it’s a good time to look at ways you can help your loved one to prevent a fall from happening. The tips below can help to reduce risks outside and inside of the home.
- Get traction
The best defence against falling when it’s snowy and icy outside is to wear boots that provide a good grip on the ground. Replace boots that have worn down treads.
- Be aware and slow down
Older adults should avoid rushing and watch for hazards such as icy patches and uneven snow. When rising from a chair, it’s recommended to stand for a few seconds before walking.
- Stay fit and active
When it’s cold outside, it’s tempting to stay indoors and hibernate. However, an older person’s inactivity can lead to a loss of muscle strength that may lead to a fall. If it’s hard to get outside, there are exercises your loved one can do from home. A healthcare provider can suggest a program that may include seated or standing exercises using a counter or sturdy chair.
- Review medications with a healthcare provider
Your loved one should regularly review all the medications they are taking, both prescription and over the counter, with their doctor or pharmacist to assess the benefits and risks of each drug.
- Do a home safety inspection Arrange to have snow and ice cleared from entrances and sidewalks. Inside the home, eliminate obvious hazards (such as poor lighting, throw rugs and clutter). Add safety modifications (such as grab bars, non-slip mats and night lights).
- Be prepared
Have a conversation with your loved ones before a fall happens. Start by asking:
- What if you fell and were not able to get up?
- If you couldn’t reach the phone, what would you do?
Knowing prompt help is available can give you both peace of mind. Consider subscribing to a medical alert service that can be used in the event of a medical emergency or fall. Ask your loved one’s healthcare professional which brand they would recommend.
Preparing for falls and ensuring help is available are just two of many ways to ensure your loved one can continue to live more securely and independently at home.
Tracy Griffin is the Senior Marketing Manager, Lifeline Canada. Visit lifeline.ca for a free Fall Prevention Guide which includes more tips and advice on what to do if your loved one experiences a fall.