Falls affect Ontarians of all ages and can occur in any setting including at home, in the playground, at the store, and at the hospital.
In Canada, falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations among older adults and represent the leading health care cost of all injuries for children ages 0 – 14.
A fall can have a devastating and lasting impact on a person, resulting in injury, chronic pain and a reduced quality of life. The good news is that there are actions you can take to prevent falls.
Preventing Falls for Older Adults
Falling is not a normal part of aging and most falls can be prevented.
Everyone has a role to play in preventing falls including older adults, caregivers, family members, and friends.
Below are some steps that can help older adults prevent falls:
Take care of yourself
- Exercise regularly to improve your strength, muscle tone, and balance. Walk if you can. Swimming may be a good choice, if you cannot walk easily.
- Have your vision and hearing checked each year or any time you notice a change.
- Know the side effects of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether the medicines you take can affect your balance.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Alcohol can impair your balance and other senses.
- Talk to your doctor if you have numbness in your feet.
- To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids. You may get dizzy if you do not drink enough water. Choose water and other clear liquids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
Preventing falls at home
Half of the falls causing hospital stays happen at home. You can take steps to make your home safer.
- Remove raised doorway thresholds, throw rugs, and clutter. Repair loose carpet or raised areas in the floor.
- Move furniture and electrical cords to keep them out of walking paths.
- If you use a walker or cane, put rubber tips on it. If you use crutches, clean the bottoms of them regularly with an abrasive pad, such as steel wool.
- Keep your house well lit, especially stairways, porches, and outside walkways. Use night-lights in areas such as hallways and washrooms.
- Install sturdy handrails on stairways.
- Move items in your cabinets so that the things you use a lot are on the lower shelves (about waist level).
- Wear low-heeled shoes that fit well and give your feet good support. Use footwear with non-skid soles. Check the heels and soles of your shoes for wear. Repair or replace worn heels or soles.
- Do not wear socks without shoes on smooth floors, such as wood.
- Walk on the grass when the sidewalks are slippery. If you live in an area that gets snow and ice in the winter, sprinkle salt on slippery steps and sidewalks. Or ask a family member or friend to do this for you.