Fall can happen anytime, anywhere and to anyone. Even a child falls. Seniors are at greater risk of falling due to their weakened stamina and frailty. According to statistics, one in three Canadian age 65 years and over fall at least once per year and more seriously injured by falls because their bones are more fragile. However, just because it happens a lot, doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to decrease the chance of it from occurring. Yes, accidents do happen and for seniors, falls occur 50% of the time at home.
Unsafe environment, acute and chronic health conditions, health behaviors, economic situation, balance or gait deficits, sensory changes, multiple medications and inadequate nutrition all put seniors at more risk for serious injuries after a fall. Fear of falling is also a huge risk factor of falls. It may cause the senior to withdraw from participation in physical activities that help build strength, balance, and confidence due to the concern of falling again. When they are less active, they become weaker and this increases their chance of falling! This is especially true for people who have just been discharged from the hospital. A home care assistance or post-hospital care from family or professional agency is vital in order to promote increased mobility.
In addition, home hazards such as broken or uneven steps, throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over, acute or chronic pain, and improper footwear can affect their gait and balance. There are many serious consequences that may happen after a fall. This includes injuries such as hip fractures and head injuries, resulting in life-threatening bleeds due to blood thinners that most seniors are on. The resulting disability then makes it impossible for a person to continue to live independently. The good thing is almost half of all these home accidents are preventable. Some of the risk factors can be changed or modified.
Falls also result in prolonged hospitalization, infection, immobilization, pain, confusion, loss of autonomy, isolation, depression, which all results in decreased quality of life and sometimes, even death. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, over one-third of seniors who are hospitalized as a result of a fall are placed in long-term care.
One of the most important steps you can take to cut you or your loved ones fall risk is to do a regular home safety inspection. Look for hazards, such as rough floor surfaces, exposed electrical cords, slippery or wet floors, clutter, throw rugs, and poor lighting. Make simple home modifications, such as grab bars in the bathroom, a second handrail on stairs, non-slip paint on outdoor steps, raised commode or a transfer bench. Use non-skid mats, always wear non-skid shoes, wear clothing that fits properly (i.e. is not too long), keep frequently used personal items within your reach, immediately clean up spills on the floor and improve lighting where necessary.
Be proactive and develop a plan:
Try not to panic if you can’t get up. Stay warm and stay where you are if you are injured and do the following:
Most importantly, don’t forget to let your family and your doctor know that you have had a fall even if you did not hurt yourself. It is important to determine the cause of your fall and what actions need to be taken to prevent another fall. If you are finding yourself having trouble managing on your own, Better Living Home Care Services would love to help you explore your options regarding home care assistance. We provide home care services ranging from personal care, respite care, nursing care to end-of-life care. Call our Client Care Coordinator at (604) 765-1827 to find more information.