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Falling has Life Changing Consequences for the Majority of Older Canadians
Holiday Visiting Offers Excellent Opportunity to Identify and Fix Hazards

Betty McKenzie, vice-president of community services and chief allied health officer with the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority, has an excellent suggestion for a gift you can give to an older adult in your life. She has a very keen interest in ensuring that older adults, their family members and the people who provide care through the programs she oversees do everything possible to reduce the risk of a fall.

“One of the kindest things you can do this holiday season if you find yourself in the home of an older adult is to identify and fix fall hazards. Of every 10 older adults who experience a fall, eight of them will require hospitalization,” McKenzie said. “One-third of Canadians over age 65 who are hospitalized for a fall are discharged to a personal care home. So much of the work we do in the program areas that I manage is focused on keeping people out of personal care homes and keeping them at home and active in their communities. These statistics really reinforce why we need to work together to reduce the chance of a fall in peoples’ homes.”

Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority (RHA) is promoting falls prevention through a regional safety education and information campaign for people working in personal care homes and home care, hospitals and clinics. Staff members are also sharing information with family members and are putting up posters with tips for the general public.

McKenzie advises that there are notorious problem areas in and around homes that are known to cause falls.

“Most falls in older adults are caused by slipping or stumbling. Look for and address slippery bath tubs, ripped or uneven flooring, loose scatter mats and snow covered or icy sidewalks as soon as you encounter them. Common medications, mixing medications and taking medication in ways not recommended can also affect peoples’ sense of balance. Talk with your pharmacist about medication side effects,” MacKenzie said

The good news is there are some proven ways to help prevent falls among people of all ages and reduce the severity of health consequences after a fall:
- Stay strong and active to improve your balance, muscle strength and mobility
- Eat regular and healthy meals everyday
- Wear proper and good fitting footwear indoors and out
- Be aware of possible side effects of any medication you are taking
- Take medication only as prescribed
- Have your eyes checked regularly
- Manage your chronic health conditions

For excellent tips on preventing falls among all family members and for ideas on how to stay safe from what might be putting you at risk of a fall, please visit www.preventfalls.ca.
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