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

West Kelowna RCMP commander recognized with Order of Merit

Staff Sgt. Duncan Dixon’s career spans an impressive 28 years with the RCMP

BC SPCA Kelowna holiday bake sale kicks off Nov. 7

Event will help to raise money for stray and neglected animals

Former Kelowna-based B.C. Dragoons leader pleads guilty to possession of child porn

Sean David Parker pleaded guilty to possession of child porn on Monday

Rutland Residents Association intends to file a complaint with provincial obudsmen over low-barrier housing

Complaint claims low-barrier housing has had a negative impact on their neighbourhood.

Two UBC professors aim to bridge cultural divide through humanities

Humanities hubs have been created on both the Vancouver and Okanagan UBC campuses

Beauty boutique committed to cleaner, greener industry

The Green Vanity accepts empty product containers for recycling

WATCH: Coldstream garage fire as hot as 275 C: deputy fire Chief

Shop fire potential for ‘one heck of a fireworks show,’ O’Hara says

North Okanagan women head up college board

Gloria Morgan named chair and Juliette Cunningham vice-chair Tuesday

Artist waves women’s flag in Okanagan

SheShe declares femininity with all-encompassing exhibit

B.C. man who killed Belgian tourist near Boston Bar gets life in prison, no parole until 2042

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Christelle Sakkalis

‘Very disrespectful’: B.C. first responder irked by motorists recording collisions on cellphones

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue deputy chief challenges motorists to break the habit

Man accused in fatal Salmon Arm church shooting also charged with arson

Parmenter family home badly damaged by fire a month before killing

Daily cannabis linked to reduction in opioid use: B.C. researchers

Researchers looked at a group of 1,152 people in Vancouver who reported substance use and chronic pain

Thieves smash way into Vernon business

Incident at Simply Delicious happened at 4:30 a.m. and was caught on video

Most Read