What is a fall?
A fall is when you unintentionally land on the floor, ground or another low level. Slips, trips, and stumbles are examples of near falls. Near falls are as important as falls since they can cause injury and are often a warning sign that something could be wrong.
Report all falls and near falls to your doctor!
A fall can happen to anyone
As we get older, our risk of falling increases.
- Falls are the sixth leading cause of death among those 65 years of age and over. Each year, about one in three seniors living at home experience at least one fall.
- Seniors are more likely to face a serious injury or hospitalization as a result of falling. Falls account for more than half of all injuries among this age group and is a common reason seniors are admitted to hospital.
- A fall can mean a major change in a senior’s life. Falls can result in long-term injury that can limit activity and increase dependence upon others. In fact, about 40% of nursing home admissions are the result of a fall.
What causes falls?
The first step in preventing falls is to know what causes them. Believe it or not, falls are not just the result of getting older. Falls often have more than one cause. A combination of factors interacting with one another makes the risk of falling greater. Some common risk factors include:
- age (over the age of 65)
- chronic illnesses such as Parkinson’s Disease and cardiovascular diseases
- a previous fall
- changes in vision and hearing
- lack of physical activity
- inappropriate footwear such as high heels, footwear that does not fit properly, and flip flops
- taking multiple medications that can possibly lead to dizziness
- excessive alcohol consumption
- environmental and home hazards such as cluttered floors and poor lighting.
Not all risk factors are modifiable, but by taking simple prevention measures many can be reduced.
How can I prevent a fall?
Most are predictable and preventable. You can take action to prevent falls. Here are a few simple things you can do to reduce your risks of falling.
1. Keep Fit
Regular physical activity helps maintain muscle and bone strength, protecting you from falls and injuries. Stay active by doing things you enjoy. Activities such as walking, swimming, dancing, yoga and Tai-Chi are great and fun ways to improve your strength and balance. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for Older Adults 65 Years and Older offers suggestions and information.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to start moving. But before you do, talk to your doctor for advice on what activities are most suitable.
2. Eat Well
Skipping meals can make you feel weak and dizzy which can lead you to fall. Follow the Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide to help keep up your energy. Enjoy a variety of foods from each food group every day.
3. Know Your Medications
As you get older your body becomes more sensitive to the effects of medications. Some medicines such as sleeping pills, heart pills or fluid pills can make you dizzy, drowsy or unsteady and cause you to fall.
You should also keep a list of all medicines you take. This list should include prescriptions given to you by your doctor and any medicine you purchase over-the-counter at your local pharmacy such as vitamins or cold remedies. Share this list with your doctor and pharmacist regularly to make sure you are taking medicines that are safe for you.
Remember, medicines can only help you if you take them properly. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions.
4. Monitor Your Sight and Hearing
Poor vision and hearing increases your risk of falling. Have your eyes and hearing tested regularly. If you have been prescribed glasses or a hearing aid be sure to wear them.
5. Make Your Home Safer
About half of all falls occur in or around the home. Maintain independence and make your home a safer place.