It is Seniors’ Week June 6-12 and an opportunity to learn how seniors can stay safe, healthy and independent by promoting healthy activity to reduce falls.
Falls are the leading cause of injury in seniors and can cause life-limiting effects that can lead to a decrease in independence. In 2020, falls among Alberta seniors ages 65+ resulted in over 34,000 visits to an emergency department or urgent care centre and over 11,000 hospitalizations.
While the risk of falls increases as people age, falls are not considered a normal part of aging.
There are actions that can be taken to help seniors avoid falls:
Keep Active to maintain strength and balance. Regular physical activity can help prevent injury and enhance independence, improving overall quality of life. Specifically,
· Do activities that challenge strength, balance, endurance and flexibility
· For those with limitations, discuss strategies for staying Active With Limited Mobility. (MyHealth.Alberta.ca)
· Use supportive footwear. View The Ideal Shoe For Seniors' Falls Prevention poster (FindingBalanceAlberta.ca)
· Consider staying active with a friend/exercise partner for safety and socialization
· Prevent heat-related illness by protecting yourself from the sun and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. Avoid strenuous activity during hot, humid hours of the day. Find more information on preventing heat-related illnesses (MyHealth.Alberta.ca)
· Talk to a healthcare provider before beginning a new physical activity
Check Your Vision and ensure you have a complete annual eye exam
· Allow eyes time to adjust to light and to pay attention to surroundings to help prevent falls.
· Changes to vision may increase the risk of falling. Alberta Health Care covers the cost of an annual eye exam for adults aged 65 and older. Some seniors may also be eligible for limited reimbursement for prescription eyeglasses. See Vision Care for Seniors (Alberta Association of Optometrists)
Review Your Medications annually with a doctor or pharmacist.
· Ask questions about side effects, interactions, and proper dosing when starting a new medication New Medicines: Questions to Ask the Doctor (MyHealth.Alberta.ca)
· Some medications can increase the risk of falling Review Your Medications (FindingBalanceAlberta.ca)
· Keep a Master List of Medicines at home and with you when you go out (MyHealth.Alberta.ca)
· Speak with your doctor if you experience dizziness and learn about managing blood pressure by reviewing Manage Your Blood Pressure (MyHealth.Alberta.ca)
Reduce falls in the home
• Keep floors and pathways clear of furniture, cords and clutter.
o Remove items you can trip over
o Move furniture and electrical cords out of walking paths
o Keep your home well-lit
o Remove scatter rugs and mats. Use non-slip mats on slippery surfaces like bathroom floors and entranceways.
o If you use a cane, replace the rubber tip when it becomes worn
o Ensure you have sturdy handrails along stairways
Information provided by Alberta Health Services