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Published on Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injuries in Grey-Bruce

By Alysa Shewfelt, Health Promoter

 

In 2017, the rate of emergency department visits for unintentional falls in Grey-Bruce was the highest in Ontario. On average, falls cause 8,630 emergency department visits, 743 hospitalizations, and 29 deaths locally each year.

A fall can happen at any age, but the risk of falling increases with age. Our bodies naturally change as we get older, 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 limit their activities for fear of falling again. The good news is that falls are preventable. There are several steps you can take to prevent having a trip, slip or fall.

Here are some of the most effective fall prevention strategies:

  • Exercise: challenge your balance and build strength. Take part in at least 2.5 hours of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week, and be sure to spread out the activities into sessions of 10 minutes or more. It is beneficial to add muscle and bone strengthening activities using major muscle groups at least twice a week. This will help your posture and balance.
  • Get enough sleep. Older adults should aim for seven to eight hours of good-quality sleep on a regular basis, with consistent bed and wake-up times.
  • Take your time: don’t rush when walking or getting up.
  • Balance your body through good nutrition and hydration.
  • Get your vison and hearing checked regularly, and maintain proper use of eyeglasses and hearing aids.
  • Manage your medications and review them regularly with your pharmacist or doctor, as some may make you more likely to experience dizziness and falling.
  • Wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes or boots. Check out Rate my Treads - a website that provides ratings for various types of footwear for their slip resistance in different weather conditions.
  • Consider using a cane, walker or other mobility device, if needed.

As you age, falls can occur in your home because of hazards that are easily overlooked, but important to fix. It’s important to ensure your home is safe, especially if you are doing more exercise and activities.

  • Make sure you have proper lighting in hallways, stairs and walkways, as well as in the bedroom and bathroom. Use nightlights or motion sensors in halls and bathrooms if you tend to get up during the night.
  • Keep stairs, floors and pathways free of clutter.
  • 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 on slippery surfaces (e.g bathroom floors and entrance ways).
  • Ensure the items you use regularly can be easily reached.  

As our population ages, fall prevention remains critical.

Without successful prevention strategies, we face the challenging and costly issue of providing treatment and facilities to care for those who have been injured due to a fall. 

 

Sources:

https://systematicreviewsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13643-020-01572-7

https://findingbalancealberta.ca/wp-content/uploads/Keeping_Well_Booklet_2021.pdf

Falls in seniors – Parachute

 

Data:

Falls.pdf (publichealthgreybruce.on.ca)

Ambulatory Visits 2003–2016, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, IntelliHEALTH Ontario, Date Extracted: November 26, 2018. Ontario Mortality Data 2003-2015, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, IntelliHEALTH Ontario, Date Extracted: February 5, 2019. Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (Public Health Ontario). Snapshots: Emergency department visits for injuries Snapshot: emergency department visits for falls–age standardized rate (both sexes) 2017 [Internet]. Toronto, ON: Queen’s Printer for Ontario; c2019 [updated 2019 Apr 5; cited 2019 Apr 17]

 

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