Marteny: Make 2012 a fall-free year

During this past month, I met five seniors who had recently fallen and incurred serious injuries.

  • Jan. 3, 2012 7:00 a.m.

During this past month, I met five seniors who had recently fallen and incurred serious injuries.

Three of them suffered eye injuries from their falls, one was inflicted with a broken hip. Another fell and was on the floor for hours before someone found her.

One was living in assisted living, another in supportive housing and three in their own homes. Four out of the five falls occurred where the senior lived.

One of those who fell said he had been saying for two years that the people living in supportive housing were too old for him so he didn’t need to move out of his home. His fall convinced him to move. He has now made new friends and wishes that he had made the move two years earlier.

Another of the fallen seniors was living in supportive housing when she fell, so she was found very quickly. She turned around too fast and took a tumble.

Now she is having eye surgery. If she had been using a walker, she probably would have been able to keep her balance. But she didn’t feel she needed one.

I would suggest that the family of a senior rent a walker for a week just to try it out. Then take the walker away and see if he or she misses it. Often seniors will realize the advantages of using a walker in that case and want to get one.

As much as seniors do to prevent a fall, it will still happen. That’s why wearing a hip protector is another option worthy of consideration. These devices are being made with more design to increase comfort.

The seniors wear them all day so if they should fall, their hips have some protection. The hip protector absorbs the fall.

I have been to the Kelowna General Hospital emergency room with seniors who have incurred broken hips from falls. They are in serious pain and the surgery can’t always be done the same day as the injury.

And after the surgery, there is the  rehabilitation time. After all of that, it might become a necessity for the senior involved to move from their own home to supportive housing.

And at that point, they won’t have the energy or mobility to tour the supportive housing locations and choose the best option, something they can do while still healthy and mobile. It’s extremely important that seniors move into the supportive housing residence that meets their individual needs. If that process is done in haste rather than through thoughtful consideration of different options,  then a major emotional and financial cost may be incurred as a result.

As for seniors who choose to live at home and are alone, use of a life alert system can help notify someone that he or she has fallen.

Sharen Marteny is a services consultant for seniors in Kelowna.



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