Did you know that falls are the leading cause of injury for seniors in Canada? According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, between 20-30% of seniors experience one or more falls a year, which cause 85% of seniors’ injury-related hospitalizations and 95% of all hip fractures. Of all these falls, around half take place in the home. However, as disconcerting as these statistics may be, there are preventative measures we can take to reduce the risk of falls and help older family members stay safe at home.
Why are seniors at higher risk of falls?
Anyone can have a fall at any time, which is why reducing fall risks benefits us all. That said, of everyone, it’s seniors who are at higher risk not only of falls but also of lasting consequences. So, what makes seniors more likely to fall?
One of the key factors is our aging bodies. As we age, our bodies go through changes that affect our balance, our muscle and bone strength as well as our vision. Any or all these factors can lead to a trip or stumble, resulting in a fall and perhaps consequent hospitalization.
Understanding these risks is a step towards minimizing the chance of a fall before it happens, helping us all stay safe.
The Consequences of Falls
No one likes to fall, no matter their age or situation. A slight fall might have no more consequence than a few scrapes and bruises when we are young, but as we get older and our bones more brittle, what would have been a sore wrist before may become a sprain or even a break. To make things worse, the older we are, the longer we take to heal. Physical side effects are perhaps the most obvious consequences, but falls can affect us mentally too. A fall might reduce our confidence, feeling of safety, or mobility and activity levels. This, in turn, can further affect our health, reducing the amount of exercise we get. All in all, even a seemingly small fall as a senior can lead to long-term consequences.
Preventing Falls: Staying healthy
As we well know, a healthy lifestyle is essential to helping us stay fit and strong. So, first and foremost, we want to make sure we eat right and exercise regularly to keep our bodies healthy. In fact, exercise helps our muscles stay strong and can help us maintain our balance too.
And don’t forget your eyesight and hearing! These deteriorate as we get older, so keeping up to date with regular check-ups and wearing any necessary aids can certainly go a long way to keeping us up and about.
Preventing Falls: Making our homes safe
One final way of ensuring our safety is by assessing our homes and making some simple modifications, with a particular focus on the stairs. So, let’s take a look at what can be done to keep seniors safer on the stairs:
- Install sturdy, easy-to-grab handrails on either side of the stairs.
- Make sure tread surfaces are even and non-slip.
- Consider adding coloured strips to the edge of stairs for higher visibility.
- Add clear, bright lighting throughout stair areas.
- Keep stairs, halls, and landing areas clear of any hazards at all times.
- Use appropriate footwear when going up or down the stairs.
- Avoid carrying too many things when using the stairs to keep at least one hand free to use the handrail.
- Take extra care when feeling tired or unwell.
However, even if you have checked all these things off your list, you may still feel unsure about using the stairs. If that’s the case, it could be time to consider adding a stair aid such as a stairlift or a homelift.
Stairlifts and Homelifts
Adding a lifting device to your home could be the answer to your worries about getting around your home safely and comfortably, making everyday life just that much easier. Both stairlifts and homelifts are relatively easy to install by experienced professionals, and the wide range of options available means there is sure to be a style and budget to suit your needs.
Being aware of the danger of falling and taking preventative measures are essential steps towards reducing your risk of a fall, particularly for seniors. In some cases, making modifications such as installing a stair aid may be the key to helping you and your family stay safe and comfortable in your home for years to come.