November is Fall Prevention Month in Canada, a time to raise awareness about preventing falls and fall-related injuries.
According to StatsCan, falls are the leading cause of injury among older Canadians, with 20 – 30 percent of seniors experiencing one or more falls every year. In addition, falls makeup 85 percent of older Canadians’ injury-related hospitalizations and 95 percent of all hip fractures. Falls can cause chronic pain, reduced mobility, a loss of independence, and even death.
Perhaps most alarming, around half of falls happen at home, where people should feel safest. Implementing effective fall prevention strategies is crucial to reduce the risk and protect the safety, well-being, and independence of our older loved ones.
Why do falls happen?
While falls can happen to anyone, older adults are particularly vulnerable due to many factors that come with the natural course of aging. For example, older people may have weaker muscles, balance problems, sensory deficits, or chronic health conditions such as osteoporosis, arthritis, or diabetes that can increase the risk of falling. They may have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or another cognitive condition that can affect their ability to recognize hazards or be on medications that can cause dizziness or unsteadiness.
Falls can also occur due to home environmental factors, such as slippery floors, clutter, poor lighting, and loose rugs. A sedentary lifestyle may also increase the fall risk. Ironically, people who have fallen previously may decrease physical activity for fear of falling again. However, they are actually more at risk than those who remain active.
Preventing falls in the home
Here are some ways you can help reduce the risk of your older loved one suffering from a fall:
Physical exercise and strength training
Regular physical exercise that improves balance, strength, and flexibility is pivotal in fall prevention. Activities such as tai chi, yoga, and simple resistance exercises can significantly reduce the risk of falls among older adults while improving confidence and stability.
Home safety modifications
Modifying the living environment can substantially minimize the risk of falls. Simple adjustments like removing loose rugs, ensuring adequate lighting (especially in stairwells and hallways), and using non-slip mats can make your loved one’s home much safer. Also, be sure to remove any clutter on floors and in hallways to prevent accidental trips. Electrical cords can also be the cause of accidental falls, so ensure they’re cleared from any walking area.
Bathrooms can also pose a severe risk of falling. Installing grab bars, higher toilet seats, and non-slip bathtub adhesives help prevent accidental slips. A shower chair is a good idea if your loved one struggles with standing or balancing.
Another strategy is to have your older relative live on the main floor of the house so they have no reason to use the stairs.
Many medications have side effects that can increase the risk of falls. It’s crucial for older adults to regularly review their medications with their healthcare professionals or pharmacists to identify and minimize any adverse effects that may impact balance or cognition. Adjusting dosages or switching to safer alternatives are excellent ways to help prevent injuries due to falls.
Regular health check-ups
Routine health check-ups are essential for identifying and managing underlying health issues that could contribute to falls. Vision problems, diminished hearing, cardiovascular issues, and neurological disorders can significantly affect balance and mobility. Timely intervention and managing these conditions can help decrease the risk of falling.
Wearing appropriate footwear is often underestimated in fall prevention. Ensure your loved one avoids going barefoot or with stocking feet and instead wears well-fitted, supportive indoor and outdoor shoes that provide good traction and stability, reducing the likelihood of slipping or tripping.
Nutrition and hydration
Maintaining a well-balanced diet and staying adequately hydrated are vital components of fall prevention. A diet rich in nutrients, particularly calcium and vitamin D, promotes bone health and strength, reducing the risk of fractures in the event of a fall.
Maintain social engagement
Social isolation can contribute to an increased risk of falls among older adults. Engaging in community activities, social groups, or hobby clubs not only fosters a sense of connection but also encourages physical activity and mental stimulation, contributing to overall well-being and fall prevention.
Arrange for a home safety audit
Having a professional inspect your home and make recommendations to decrease the risk of falls will help enhance the safety of your loved one’s home. It’s one of the best ways to help them maintain their independence and quality of life with confidence.
If you need home safety recommendations to help prevent injuries due to falls, the caregivers at CareHop are ready to help.
Quality in-home elder care services in Etobicoke, Mississauga, and Brampton
CareHop specializes in providing quality eldercare services when your family needs support to help your elderly loved one live at home independently and with optimal health through proper care and nutrition.
Our caregivers provide professional in-home nursing care, PSW services, and Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care that focuses on your loved one’s specific needs. We also offer in-home elder care services such as homemaking and meal preparation, personal care, activities, and casual companionship so they can enjoy their vintage years with the highest quality of life possible.
CareHop’s elder care services are designed to positively impact your loved one’s life throughout the year or at certain times when you need us the most.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation discussion to discover how we can help you.