A serious concern for many health care professionals and older adults is the risk of falls. Research from the Public Health Agency of Canada suggests that seniors over the age of 65 are at a higher risk of falling. As busy Canadians we are often too task oriented and we forget the importance of slowing down and examining our surroundings.
Seniors account for over 40 percent of people hospitalized for injuries.
At least half will experience minor injuries and 5 to 25 percent will experience a serious injury (i.e. fracture). After a fall, 40 percent of people are ultimately admitted into a long term care facility as care needs become increased.
Falls often occur in a variety of different settings and can be associated
with completing day-to-day activities, reaching for objects slightly out of
reach (including bending over to pick something up, tying a shoe lace) or
standing up too fast and not using assistive devices like grab bars for
increased stability. Scatter rugs, uneven surfaces, clutter, and slippery floors are often major contributors to falls, but are often neglected hazards. Family members can take these actions to make the home safer:
• Install safety bars, grab bars or handrails in the shower or bath.
• Use of a rubber backed bath mat in the tub and on the floor
• Consider a raised toilet seat, which can make it much easier to get on and off the toilet
• Install at least one stairway handrail that extends beyond the first and last steps
• Use of night lights and generally good lighting throughout the home
• Remove loose throw rugs
• Avoid clutter. Remove any furniture that is not needed. All remaining furniture should be stable and without sharp corners, to minimize the effects of a fall
• Keep pathways from bed to bathroom especially free of clutter
• Keep electrical cords from trailing across the floor.
Many community groups are offering falls prevention programs, which provide group exercise classes and education. Typically there is no cost for these programs and a little prevention can go a long way. For more information:
Ps. If you said the bathroom, you are correct. -Audrey Miller