According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), falling accidents by seniors is the preeminent cause of injury-related hospitalizations. In fact, 20-30% of seniors fall once or more, annually. With nearly 20% of the Canadian population aged 65 and older, this has become a national problem that warrants a cumulative effort to improve the figures.
In addition to the obvious repercussions to seniors’ health, younger Canadians are also impacted by their loved ones’ falls — in more ways than one. The PHAC explains that the estimated healthcare costs of falls by seniors exceed $2 billion annually. To put that in perspective, that’s nearly four times the amount compared to younger adults. Furthermore, families shoulder an emotional burden after a loved one falls. Heightened anxiety and worry about a repeat fall can take a large toll.
As spontaneous as falls can be, there are certain factors that prelude them. Pre-existing health conditions, balance deficits, poor nutrition, and social isolation can all increase chances of falling. Half of all falls that require hospitalization occur in the home and result in extended hospital stays, lasting weeks or even months. As we age, our bone density decreases, thus broken and fractured bones are the most prevalent injuries, particularly hip fractures. Industry experts estimate that one out of every 200 seniors aged 65 to 69 fracture their hip after a fall. For those aged 85 and older, that statistic jumps to one out of every ten seniors.
So what can we do to help? The BC Provincial Government outlines several tips to reduce the number of falls that occur. Firstly, they recommend reducing any trip and slip hazards both inside and outside the home. Regular vision check-ups, physical activity — particularly exercises that build muscle and improve balance, and a review of current medications with the family physician or pharmacist can help. Additional tips include installing grab bars, stair lights, non-slip treads for wooden steps and keeping clothes, dishes, and food within reach. Of course, using a mobility aid is a great way to remain upright, but as mentioned, seniors often reject the idea. Perhaps if the aid was free, the idea might be a little easier to adopt.
Canadian Safe Step Tub is giving away 1,000 canes to 1,000 Canadians in honour of Fall Prevention Month this November. CEO of CSST, Renato Cavaliere, wants to help invoke confidence and return lost independence to Canadian seniors. “We hope that we can contribute to reducing the number of falls experienced by seniors and mobility-challenged members of our society so they can continue to be active participants in our community,” he said.
In a perfect world, we could be with our loved ones at all times and prevent any fall that may occur. Unfortunately, that’s not realistic, so all we can do is educate ourselves about the facts and dangers, as well as implement some of the top tips to prevent falls. To apply for a free cane from Canadian Safe Step Tub, visit acaneforlife.com.