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November 4 to 10 - Falls Prevention Week for Older Adults

 

Falls are the leading cause of hospitalization resulting from unintentional injury for all Canadians and the leading cause of injury hospitalization for Manitobans.

 

“The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that, every year, almost one of every three seniors living in the community will fall. Half of those people will fall more than once,” said Brigette Budgell, manager of seniors support programs with the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority. “This is concerning because the likelihood of dying from a fall-related injury increases with age.”

 

She added that after a fall, in addition to possible increased health care needs, older adults, family members and caregivers may be required to offer additional support as well.

 

“We should take advantage of this week to remind people that more often than not, falls are preventable,” Budgell said.

 

She encourages people to scan their homes for tripping hazards, like throw rugs and uneven spots on floors that need to be addressed.

 

“Installing grab bars on the inside and outside of tubs and showers and next to the toilet are good safety additions to bathrooms. Stairways should have railings or hand holds on both sides and high traffic areas should be well lit inside and outside of a home,” Budgell said. “It’s best to address these kinds of safety enhancements before a fall, not after.”

 

Additional suggestions from the Public Health Agency of Canada to help keep seniors on their feet include:

  • Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that they get more challenging over time. Tai Chi programs are especially good.
  • Ask doctors or pharmacists to review medications—both prescription and over-the counter—to identify medication that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Have an eye check-up at least annually and update eyeglasses to maximize vision.  Consider glasses with single vision distance lenses for activities like walking outside.

 

To lower hip fracture risk, older adults can:

  • Get adequate calcium and vitamin D—from food and/or from supplements.
  • Do weight bearing exercise.
  • Get screened and, if needed, treated for osteoporosis.

A number of events organized by community groups are taking place in the Interlake-Eastern RHA in recognition of Falls Prevention week. Contact the organization noted for more details:

  • Nov. 1-12: Fall Prevention Display at the Whitemouth District Health Centre patient waiting room
  • Nov. 5: Whitemouth’s Adult Day Program is offering a falls Prevention presentation & game in the morning followed by calcium rich snacks “Froggy Smoothies” and balance exercises in the afternoon;  (Marilyn Sitar, 204-348-3940)
  • Nov. 6: Lac du Bonnet Day Trippers are hosting a “Facts about Falls” exercise demonstration and presentation (Ashley McLean, 204-345-1212 ext 1118)
  • Nov. 13 - Stonewall’s Support for Seniors Group in Crocus Manor is offering a falls prevention presentation (1:00 p.m.)
  • Taoist Tai Chi interactive demo at Beausejour’s Adult Day program (Contact Heather Godin, 204 – 268-7301)
  • Tudor House Personal Care Home in Selkirk is offering balance and exercises to reduce falls and information on osteoporosis (Lenore Boyce or Jeanette Warren, 204 492-6601)
  • Ashern LIFE Seniors Resource Council has a display in their office with a promotion drive for Lifeline AutoAlert with free installation.  (204-768-2187)
  • Ashern Senior Support Services in a Group Living will be running exercise programs in both of their sites, Ashern and Moosehorn, to promote mobility and balance. (204-768-2187)
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