With COVID-19 restrictions, your grandparents (and other seniors) could find themselves more isolated than ever and at greater risk of a fall. In these trying times, we encourage you to give them a call as often as you can and to check on their physical and mental well-being. You may not be able to see them in person, but that doesn’t mean you cannot be there for them in other ways! One way you can help your grandparents stay safe is by giving them tips on how to avoid falls – the leading cause of hospitalization in our Trauma Centre.

Why Falling Is So Dangerous for Seniors

Seniors account for over half of all falls we see. The consequences of injuries resulting from falls can be devastating: 95% of hip fractures are caused by a fall and within the first year following a hip fracture, about 7 % of the injured seniors will die.

20% of those who fall may not survive the first year after injury.  In fact, when the elderly fall, they are often unable to protect themselves and end up hitting their heads, which can cause traumatic brain injuries (TBI). TBIs often result in life altering consequences, decreased independence leading to long-term care, and possibly death.  This is very serious! We are here to help you better understand how falls happen so you can help your grandparents avoid injuries.

What Is Causing Seniors Falls?

There are many different risk factors associated with falling: aging, lack of strength, lack of flexibility, poor balance, decreased eyesight, decreased hearing, clutter, poor lighting, taking certain medications, having a previous history of falling, having certain medical conditions such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, or diabetes.

The vast majority of seniors falls happen in and around the home. For this reason, it is even more important to address the issue now, at a time when your grandpa or grandma might be isolated due to COVID-19. The extra time spent in the house and the lack of physical activity increases their risk of falling.

How Can You Help?

Eliminating all risk factors, such as age or need for medications, may not be possible. However, helping your grandparents asses their limitations and know the side effects caused by the medications they are taking can reduce their risk.  Next time you give them a call, tell them about these few simple things they can do to avoid falls:

  • Wear their glasses and hearing aids if applicable.
  • Use their assisted devices such as cane or walker if applicable, even around the house.
  • Wear proper, supportive shoes or slippers with a good grip and avoid shoes or slippers with no backing.
  • Stay active in order to stay strong, flexible and agile. They can do tai chi, yoga, or simple movements like getting up from a chair repeatedly. Perhaps you can help them find a good YouTube senior workout video!
  • Make sure they have good lighting. Proper lighting in the hallway, bathroom and kitchen are important so that they can see during the night.
  • See their family doctor as problems and issues arise. Many clinics now offer telemedicine or appointments over the phone.
  • Eat nutritious meals regularly and avoid skipping meals; they may get lightheaded and dizzy from skipping meals.
  • Take their time when doing activities.
  • Get enough sleep.

You can also download this useful Health Canada brochure, or visit our page on Fall Prevention for Seniors.

By sharing this information, you can make a difference in your grandparents’ health and safety!

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