Falls are the No. 1 reason for injury-related hospitalizations for older adults and in Canada, more than 1.6 million seniors fall each year. Almost half experience serious injuries, such as fractures and sprains; falls cause 95 per cent of hip fractures in those over 65. Close to 20 per cent of seniors die within one year of a fall.
Our bodies naturally change with age, and these changes affect the way we feel, move, and behave. A fall can have a devastating and lasting impact on a person, resulting in injury, chronic pain and a reduced quality of life. Even without an injury, a fall can cause an older adult to lose confidence and reduce their activities. The good news is that there are actions you can take to prevent falls.
Check out our resources section below to find information on how to assess risk, how to prevent a fall, how to get up safely after a fall, falls and their connection to various issues such as vision, medication, chronic diseases, cognitive impairment, and more.
Key strategies to prevent falls
These are the most effective steps you can take to prevent a fall, as assessed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and Finding Balance, a program for seniors and caregivers created by the Injury Prevention Centre at the University of Alberta.
- Exercise: challenge your balance and build strength.
- Get enough sleep.
- Take your time: don’t rush when walking or getting up.
- Balance your body through good nutrition and hydration.
- Get your sight and hearing checked regularly.
- Manage your medications and review them regularly with your pharmacist or doctor as some may make you prone to dizziness and falling.
- Wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes.
- Consider using a cane or other mobility device if needed.
- Maintain proper use of eyeglasses and hearing aids.
In your home
- Make sure you have proper lighting in hallways, stairs, and walkways as well as in the bedroom and bathroom.
- Keep stairs free of clutter and exterior stairs and walkways free of clutter, ice or snow.
- Install hand rails along stairs and safety grab bars in the bathroom.
- Check your home for slipping and tripping hazards, and use non-slip mats or rugs.
- Ensure regularly used items are within reach.
Canada’s aging population
The 2016 Census showed that for the first time, there are more adults over the age of 65 years (5.9 million) than children under the age of 15 years (5.8 million). The number of Canadians over the age of 85 years is growing four times more quickly than the overall Canadian population.”The 2017 Chief Public Health Officer of Canada’s Report on the State of Public Health in Canada “Designing Healthy Living”
Fall prevention is critical as our Canadian population ages; without successful prevention strategies, we face a difficult and pressing issue of providing treatment and facilities to care for those who have been injured due to a fall.
By reducing seniors’ falls by 20 per cent between 2010 and 2035, it is forecasted that we can save 4,400 lives and save $10.8 billion in health-care costs.”The Cost of Injury in Canada Report