Updated: Jul 20
Click here to find out more about Fall Prevention: www.fallpreventionmonth.ca
November is fall prevention month here in Canada. Among older Canadians, falls are the main factor of injury-related hospitalizations. Falls are a rising concern among today’s ever growing and ageing population. In Ontario alone, there were over 250,000 emergency department visits and 60,000 hospitalizations for those aged 65 and over in 2014-15.
The majority of these falls occur due to simple trips and slips, but the outcomes can be severe. As such, fall prevention is a simple yet crucial step in ensuring the safety of seniors.
There are various modifications you can make to help prevent falls:
● Simple measures such as motion night lights and removing clutter around your environment help reduce falls. Loose rugs are a tripping hazard. They should be secured to the floor, especially the corners.
● Other changes include fortifying your tub and shower with non-slips in addition to installing grab rails.
● Having a good understanding of your medications and how they affect you is important. Some drugs can induce dizziness or lower your appetite, increasing the risk of falling.
● Eating a well-balanced diet and participating in light exercise if you are able increases your strength and balance. Tai Chi is a popular option.
● Proper footwear can decrease your risk of trips. This is also critical in the winter months when the sidewalks are icy. Rate My Treads is a great resource to see your shoe’s rank on safety. Shoes should also be routinely inspected and replaced as the treads wear down.
● Take your time - rushing through certain activities like using stairs and running to the washroom can cause falls. Be deliberate in your actions.
● Do not feel embarrassed to use walking aids or canes - they will secure your mobility and help keep you active. Simple walking can maintain a healthy mind and body.
● Reach out to loved ones if you worry about your risk of falling. A support group ensures you can get extra assistance when needed. The University Health Network’s Toronto Rehabilitation Institute has a Falls Prevention Program that includes assessing your risk of falling and suggesting appropriate lifestyle changes.
Sometimes, all of these additional safety techniques may feel unnecessary. Considering the frequency of falls and their serious consequences, putting a little bit of thought to your daily routine as well as some small investments around the house are minor inconveniences compared to the dangerous alternative. Prevention starts with awareness and continues with safety.
We all have a role to play when it comes to Fall Prevention.
At Able Innovations, we are promoting independence and dignity through our advanced assistive devices currently under development. With our first product, the ALTA (Automated Lateral Transfer Assistant) we aim to vastly improve the safety of patient-transfer processes in healthcare facilities. Right now, over 50% of all patient falls in hospitals occur during transfer activities, with the average direct costs of such a fall for an older adult being $23,600.
The ALTA will simplify the transfer process for both patients and caregivers by performing effortless transfers while leveraging machine intelligence for improved safety in these activities. We want our ALTA to be the first of many steps towards our mission of improving health outcomes and quality of life for our end-users and their families.
1.) Public Health Agency of Canada. “Seniors' Falls in Canada - Infographic.” Canada.ca. Government of Canada, March 16, 2015. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/aging-seniors/publications/publications-general-public/seniors-falls-canada-second-report/seniors-falls-canada-infographic.html
2.) Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, and Parachute. “Falls in Ontario Adults 65 .” Fall Prevention Month. Ontario Injury Data Report (2018), 2018. https://www.fallpreventionmonth.ca/uploads/2018 Toolkit Files/Ontario falls infographic.pdf
3.) Watson, B. J., Salmoni, A. W., & Zecevic, A. A. (2015). Falls in an acute care hospital as reported in the adverse event management system. Journal of Hospital Administration, 4(4). https://doi.org/10.5430/jha.v4n4p84
4.) Injury Prevention Centre. “Fall Facts.” Finding Balance Alberta. Injury Prevention Centre, 2018. https://findingbalancealberta.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018-FB-Data-Infographic.pdf