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Fall Prevention Among Older Adults

 

Falling is the leading cause of injury for older adults in Halton Region. Learn more about how to reduce your chances of falling, and where to get information on resources.

Fall statistics

Falls can be a major problem for older adults:

  • Falling is the leading cause of injury for older adults (CIHI, 2013). It results in about 85% of hospital injury admissions for adults aged 65 and over in Halton Region.
  • Falling can cause older adults to lose confidence in doing their favourite activities, even if they were not injured. Inactivity can lead to poorer health and coordination, which could lead to more serious falls.
  • More than 1/3 of older adults hospitalized for a fall are sent to long-term care instead of back to their homes. The number of older adults entering long-term care from a hospital, due to a fall, is almost double the number of residents already in long-term care (Scott, Wagar, & Elliot, 2010).
  • Falling seems to be the direct cause of 95% of hip fractures, leading to death in 20% of cases (Ioannidis et al., 2009; Jiang et al., 2005; Wolinsky et al., 2009).

Fall prevention tips

Most falls can be prevented. Follow these tips to reduce your chances of falling.

Living well

Exercise

  • Regular exercise is one of the most important ways to decrease your risk of falling.
  • It can improve your physical and mental health.
  • It can also improve your balance and flexibility, keep you mobile, and make your heart, muscles and bones stronger.

Take action

  • Try to exercise most days of the week.
  • Set short-term and long-term physical activity goals that can be met in one week, one month and three months.
  • Physical activity for adults 65 or older should include 2.5 hours of moderate to high levels each week, for 10 minutes at a time or more. This can include brisk walking, cycling or swimming.
  • Exercise your muscles at least two days each week by lifting weights and doing pushing and pulling activities.
  • Do exercises that will improve your balance, such as walking on a straight line, or balancing on one foot and then the other.

Take time

  • Do not rush when answering the door or phone to decrease the risk of falling. Try increasing the number of rings on your phone so that you don't miss a phone call.
  • Take your time to get up from sitting. This lets you gain your balance and decreases your risk of falling.

Make healthy choices

  • Talk to your doctor to make sure that you are getting enough Vitamin D and calcium. This will lower your risk for osteoporosis (external link), which can lead to weaker bones that can break more easily if you fall.
  • Eating a healthy diet (external link) is important for bone health. It helps your body to stay healthy and decreases the side effects of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes. Use Canada's food guide (external link) to help you pick healthy foods from the four food groups. Drink six cups (1500 mL) of fluids daily, such as water, milk or 100% fruit juice, whether you are thirsty or not.

Taking care of your health

Medications

  • As our bodies age, physical changes might lead to more side effects from medications.
  • Side effects from prescription medications, over-the-counter products and herbal medications might cause you to feel sleepy or dizzy, which can increase the risk of falling and other injuries.
  • Practice safer medication use (external PDF). Taking four or more prescription medications can cause unwanted interactions, putting you at a higher risk of falling. At least once a year, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the medicines you take. Return unused medications to a pharmacy for proper disposal.
  • If you drink alcohol, speak with your doctor or pharmacist about potential interactions with prescriptions, over-the-counter products or herbal medications.

Foot wear

Appointments for health upkeep and care

Preventing falls at home

Plan ahead to lower your risk of falling in and around your home. Your risk of falling increases with age and from unsafe conditions in and around the home.

Did you know?

  • 1/3 to 3/4 of older adult falls occur at home (Hill et al., 1999; Tinetti et al., 1988).
  • Approximately 93% of Canadians 65 years and over still live in private homes (Turcotte & Schellenberg, 2006).

Take action

  • Your home can have inside tripping hazards (external link), such as throw rugs or clutter on the stairs, and outside tripping hazards (external link), like icy walkways.
  • Think about adding safety options, such as grab bars in the shower or bath, and hand rails on stairs, even before you need them.
  • Call 311 to find out if you qualify for financial assistance with renovations through the Halton Accessibility Repair Program (HARP).
  • Seek advice on the proper use of safety devices and equipment (external link), such as canes, walkers and rubber bath mats.
  • Call 311 if you see or know of hazards in your community that may cause you to fall, such as cracks in sidewalks.
  • If you have fallen before, help prevent another fall (external link)by understanding why it happened and what can be done to prevent it happening again.

Fall prevention resources

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