Although COVID-19 is the major concern these days, falls remain the leading cause of hospitalization. Seniors account for over half of all falls in our Trauma Centre. The consequences of injuries resulting from falls can be devastating. Hip fractures are often the result of a fall. It is believed that falls are the cause of 95% of all hip fractures and lead to death about 20% of the time.[i]  Another possible consequence of a fall includes traumatic brain injuries. When seniors fall, they are often unable to protect themselves from the fall, and end up hitting their heads. This often results in life altering consequences, decreased independence leading to long term care, and possibly death.  These consequences are serious enough to pay attention.

What is causing the 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, and having certain medical conditions such as Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, or diabetes.

Where do falls occur?

The vast majority of falls happen in and around the home. For this reason, it is even more important to address the issue now, during this time of isolation due to COVID-19.  The extra time spent in the house and lack of physical activity increase the risk of falling.

How to help prevent them?

Although eliminating all risk factors such age or need for medications may not be possible, knowing your limitations and medication side effects can help reduce the risk.  Here are a few other simple and helpful tips, as proposed by Health Canada.

  • Wear your glasses and hearing aids if applicable.
  • Use you assisted devices such as cane or walker if applicable, even around the house.
  • Wear proper, supportive shoes or slippers with a good grip and avoiding shoes or slippers with no backing.
  • Stay active in order to stay strong, flexible and agile. You can do tai chi, yoga, or simple movements like getting up out of a chair repeatedly.
  • Make sure to good lighting. Light your hall way, bathroom and kitchen so that you can see during the night.
  • See your family doctor as problems and issues arise.
  • Eat nutritious meals regularly and avoid skipping meals; you may get light headed and dizzy from skipping meals.
  • Don’t rush, take your time.
  • Get enough sleep.

Download this useful brochure from the Health Canada website : You can prevent falls

Tara Grenier, M.Sc., CAT(C)
Injury Prevention Professional
Montreal General Hospital-McGill University Health Centre
Trauma Program
[i] Public Health Agency of Canada. Senior’s falls in Canada: protecting Canadians against illness. Second report. 2014:2.

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