Last year, 557 seniors in B.C. died from falls. -Image: Governing.com

Column: Falls a major cause of injuries

Fall Prevention Week, Nov. 6 to 12, is a reminder of harm that can happen and how it can be avoided

Falls happen every day, across all age groups.

For children and youth, it might be a fall off playground equipment or a bicycle. For adults, it might be a fall off a ladder or slipping on the floor at work. For older adults, most falls occur in the home.

Falls can have devastating effects:

· They are the number one cause of injury-related deaths, hospital stays, visits to the emergency room and the most common cause of permanent disability for children, adults, and seniors.

· Falls are the leading cause of injury‐related deaths and hospitalizations for B.C. seniors. In fact, within B.C. an average of 557 seniors die each year from falls.

· For youth, falls are second only to car and bike crashes. On average in B.C., 13,397 seniors (aged 65 and older) are hospitalized each year —that’s 37 hospitalizations a day.

Women over 65 are the highest risk group, with almost double the rates of deaths, hospital stays, visits to the emergency room and permanent partial disability than older men. This may be due to the fact that women have less muscle mass than men and weaker bones, making them more likely to fall and break a bone.

The good news is there are many things that can be done to prevent falls.

The number one reason why seniors fall is because their muscles become weak due to inactivity. While you should always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program, the best advice for all ages is to get active, and include strength and balance training in your routines. For example Tai Chi has been shown to be effective at preventing falls in seniors. Many community recreation centres now offer strength and balance classes designed for older participants or those with health issues.

Taking more than five medications also increases the risk of falling, as many medications have dizziness or drowsiness as a side effect. Sleeping pills should be avoided, if possible. It is important to tell your doctor or pharmacist about all the medications you take and to make sure you take your medications as directed. If you think your medications are making you dizzy and might cause you to fall, be sure to tell your doctor or pharmacist right away. Don’t stop taking your medication without speaking with your doctor first. Be especially careful when you are starting a new medication as the side effects may be worse at the beginning.

Other tips to prevent falls:

· Reduce clutter inside your home, especially on the floors.

· Make sure all outdoor pathways and stairs are well lit and free of ice, snow and leaves.

· Avoid using ladders or step stools. Move things down to where you can reach them and/or ask a neighbour, family member or friend for assistance.

· Use handrails and remove your reading glasses when going up and down stairs.

· Wear comfortable low-heeled shoes that provide good support.

· Eat healthy foods and drink lots of water – poor nutrition and dehydration can cause dizziness.

· Avoid rushing and “multi-tasking”. Be more mindful of where you put your feet and stay alert to your surroundings when you are walking, especially on stairs.

· Have your vision checked each year. Wear your glasses and hearing aids.

· Consider using a walker or cane to help with getting around. Talk to a Community Physiotherapist or Occupational Therapist first to make sure you buy the right walking aid for you.

Nov. 6 to 12 is Falls Prevention Week. For more information about fall and injury prevention, visit the fall prevention sitewww.findingbalancebc.ca and the Your Health section at www.interiorhealth.ca.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Wildfire near Peachland forces local state of emergency

The Mount Eneas wildfire has forced the evacuation of three homes near Peachland

Okanagan Mountain Park wildfire now an estimated 400 hectares

BC Wildfire is on scene of what is being called the Good Creek blaze

Updated: Complete list of B.C. Interior wildfire coverage

Up-to-date information on blazes happening the Kamloops Wildfire Centre

Mount Conkle wildfire near Summerland continues to grow

Lightning-caused fire near Summerland now at estimated size of 80 hectares

Flicked cigarette butt sparks small fire

The cigarette would have added fuel to the fire if it wasn’t for good samaritans

Update: Skeleton crew to watch 1,000 hectare wildfire near Peachland overnight

Peachland - Evacuation orders have been issued for Brent Road and Highway 97 South properties

B.C. city wants pot punted from farmland

Concerned about conversion from growing food to making marijuana

On the street: Kelowna reacts to 2018 wildfires

BC Wildfire is working with local departments to battle multiple blazes near Kelowna.

World’s translators push back on forcing Trump interpreter to testify

Democrats had asked translator to testify about Trump’s lengthy conversation with Putin in Helsinki

No decision on B.C. school stabbing suspect’s mental fitness for trial

The BC Review Board could not determine whether Gabriel Klein, 21, is fit to stand trial

Update: Size of large fire near Keremeos unknown

Two significant fires are burning in the Lower Similkameen, smoke can be seen as far away as Osoyoos

Penticton bans open burning

Temporary fire ban takes effect noon Friday

Man shot dead in Oliver home

RCMP major crime unit investigating after 58-year-old man was shot and killed

Syrian refugees fear for lives at home

Former head of Salmon Arm Refugee Coalition says Canada should be doing more

Most Read