Fall Prevention Month - Avoiding Hazardous Falls
BY MARGUERITE THOMAS
Why are falls such an important issue? Older adults have many opportunities to live a rich and full life, while enjoying their
independence. With a fall, life can change in a heartbeat. Independence can be lost. But the good news is that there is much that can be done as most falls are predictable and preventable.
With November as Fall Prevention Month, organizations and individuals in Canada and beyond are encouraged to come together to co-ordinate fall prevention efforts for a larger impact. Now in its fourth year, the Fall Prevention Partners continue to promote the notion that “It takes a community to prevent a fall: we all have a role to play”.
What role can one play as an older adult in preventing falls? If you are an engaged older adult who exercises and practises good
nutrition, you already have a head start on prevention. Some other considerations would be to have a risk assessment for falls.
Personal factors include:
• History of falls
• Medical conditions – either acute or chronic with a change
• Changes in memory or mental ability
• Medications that can cause sedation or heart rate changes, number of medications
• Alcohol and cannabis use
• Vision, hearing or neurological issues
• Being overweight or underweight
• Fear of falling, depression or mood disorder
• Comfort and skill in using assistive devices
• Footwear that fits well and has a firm, non-slip sole.
Environment also plays a key role in fall prevention, and some preventative steps include:
• Obtaining a home safety checklist that covers all the rooms in your home.
• Ensuring that there is good lighting indoors and outdoors, especially with night lights.
• Advocating for outdoor safety – safe sidewalks, stairs with railings that can be gripped, marked changes and effective snow removal.
• Reporting any hazards to the appropriate authority.
• Advocating for items such as benches so walkers can rest and washrooms so older adults are more comfortable about walking and exercising.
• Suggesting that public and private stairwells that are painted have a contrasting strip on the edge so that the edge can be clearly seen.
These lists are not exhaustive as there are others who provide resources. All across Canada, public health, acute care, long term care, and community care agencies are playing a role. Locally, non-profit organizations that you can contact include ONE CARE Home and Community Support Services which offers a number of programs that are geared to falls prevention. These include free exercise and wellness programs, community foot care clinics and other programs that support good health, like Meals on
Wheels, Adult Day Programs and Home Care.
For more information visit www.onecaresupport.ca or call 1-877-502-8277. Huron County Health Unit staff can also advise on fall prevention, including Public Health Promoter Chisomo Mchaina who is the Program Lead for the Injury Prevention portfolio, including fall prevention. As part of her role, Chisomo is able to give presentations, and provide fall prevention educational
resources. You can contact her at 519-482-3416 ext. 2021, 1-877-837- 6143 ext. 2021 or at email@example.com
What roles can one play as a health care worker? Stay tuned for an upcoming column and attend the Fall Prevention Month launch at Seaforth Long Term Care and Retirement Community on Nov. 6. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Watch for upcoming columns with more resources both for older adults and for health care workers. E-mail email@example.com with any fall-related questions or concerns.
Thank you to The Citizen for this opportunity to promote fall prevention in my home area. While my role is pan-Canadian, local support is greatly appreciated.