Search

Keep active, check eyesight, review meds to prevent falls

November 6, 2017

Keeping active year-round is one of the best ways to prevent falls.

AHS partners with Injury Prevention Centre to highlight Falls Prevention Month

Story by: Emily Post

Anyone can fall. No exceptions.

“Just the other day I fell,” says Emily Post, who works with Community, Seniors, Addiction and Mental Health.

“It was the first snowfall in Calgary and I was walking across the street wearing high heels,” but she hastens to add “it wasn’t snowing when I left the house that morning.”

“Next thing I knew I had slipped on ice and I was sprawled across the road in pain. My lunch bag and hat went flying. Now imagine if I were two or three times my age. I would be more than just sore — I could have broken my wrist, or worse, my hip.”

Falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults. In fact, one in three adults over 65 will experience a fall at least once per year, which can result in loss of mobility, decreased independence and even death.

The good news? A fall can be prevented. Older adults and health professionals can all play a role in preventing a fall before it happens.

“Falling is not a normal part of aging,” says Teresa Curtis, Health Promotion Facilitator, Provincial Injury Prevention Program.

“Although the risk of falling does increase as people age, there are steps that can be taken to reduce a person’s risk” she adds. “Encourage people to stay active by walking more and manage nutrition and eating to maintain strength. It’s important to attend appointments and take action to reduce risks. And maybe stay away from high heels, especially when it’s snowing.”

Alberta Health Services (AHS) actively supports efforts to reduce falls at every age — and November is Falls Prevention Month.

As in past years, AHS has again partnered with the Injury Prevention Centre (IPC) to launch their annual seniors-falls prevention awareness campaign, Finding Balance. The theme for this year’s 10th anniversary campaign — Stay Independent. Prevent Falls — aims to educate and empower Albertans to take an active role in preventing falls.

The campaign features three categories:

  1. Keep Active — Exercise for strength and balance
    Living an inactive life is the greatest health risk for older adults. A provincial Keep Active Challenge is happening Nov. 1 to 30. Encourage older adults and your colleagues to sign up for the challenge. It’s never too late to be more active. #KeepActive
  2. Check Vision — Talk to your optometrist or ophthalmologist
    People with visual impairments are more than twice as likely to fall as people without visual impairments. Maintaining good vision plays a strong role in falls prevention. #CheckYourVision
  3. Review Medications — Have your doctor or pharmacist review meds
    As individuals age, the way medications affect them changes. Taking certain medications or combinations of medications can increase the risk of falling. Encourage older adults to keep their Best Possible Medication History (BPMH) updated as well as complete an annual medication review with their doctor or pharmacist. #ReviewYourMeds

As health care professionals, each of us has a role to play.

Participate in events within your community. Share your pictures and experiences on social media. Follow the Injury Prevention Centre and Alberta Health Services on Facebook and Twitter for updates about the challenge and the Finding Balance Campaign.

Promotional materials have also been updated and developed to help promote Falls Prevention Month, and tools and brochures, including a Falls Risk Self-Assessment Checklist, are also available for you to educate older adults on the risk of falls and how to prevent them on the Finding Balance Website.

For more information about Falls Prevention Month please contact: Emily Post at emily.post@ahs.ca, Community, Seniors, Addiction and Mental Health; or Teresa Curtis at teresa.curtis@ahs.ca, Prevention Program.