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Falls Prevention Strategies

Coleen Heenan, Nurse Practitioner
Seniors Outpatient Clinic, RJH
Working in a Seniors Clinic, I see people every day
who are worried about their balance and are fearful
of falling.

As we grow older, the risk of falling increases.  Every year, 30-60% of seniors fall, increasing the risk of injury and impacting the ability to care for themselves and remain independent.  In fact, up to 75% of people who live at home, and have a hip fracture, don’t regain their pre-injury function.  Falls in older adults often precede placement in a care facility or accidental deaths.

There are many reasons people fall.  Most often, we fall for accidental reasons, tripping over a rug or an uneven surface or slipping on ice.  We may lose our balance or have walking difficulties.  Feeling dizzy or light headed also leads to falls.

The good news is, there are changes you can make to prevent falls and stay independent.

Risk factors:

  • Age and related changes (e.g. bladder issues, vision changes)
  • Acute illness
  • Chronic illness (e.g.; Diabetes)
  • Mobility issues (e.g.; Parkinson’s disease,  Arthritis, no mobility aid or incorrect use)
  • Medications (taking multiple or unnecessary medications or even  type of medication – some increase risk of falling)
  • Environmental factors (poor lighting, pets, slippery floors, rugs)
  • Footwear choices

How can you reduce your risk of falling?

  • Take control of your life!  Many people don’t want to use a cane or walker as they think that is for old folks.  If it helps your balance you will stay safer and healthier by using it.
  • See your health care provider if you have fallen or feel unsteady on your feet or have bladder issues.
  • Stay active!  Regular exercise keeps muscles strong.  Ask about activity groups in your community.
  • Avoid hurrying.
  • Wear shoes with non-slip treads and closed heels.
  • Have your care provider or pharmacist review your medications regularly.
  • Stay healthy! Limit your alcohol intake. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Get regular eye and ear exams.

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