Prairie Post (West Edition)

Falls Prevention Month a reminder for seniors to take precaution­s


November is Falls Prevention Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness about falls in seniors and empowering older Albertans to stay independen­t and prevent falls. The number of falls among Canadian seniors are the leading cause of injuryrela­ted hospitaliz­ations. Older adults make up 11 per cent of the Canadian population but account for 35 per cent of these injury hospitaliz­ations. After a fall, many people are unable to live the way they want, they may lose their independen­ce or live in a state of fear of having another fall. Falls should not be considered a natural part of getting older, so it is important that we focus on our healthy aging and prevent falls from happening in the first place.

Finding Balance is a seniors’ falls prevention initiative developed by the Injury Prevention Centre at the University of Alberta. Finding Balance focuses on an education program and public awareness campaign that is designed to educate seniors to stay independen­t. Finding Balance explains that seniors can prevent falls by keeping active to improve strength and balance, reviewing medication­s yearly, and by visiting an eye doctor for a yearly eye exam. Ways you can prevent a fall are through three key areas: challengin­g your balance, building strength, and being active.

Challengin­g your balance is all about controllin­g your movements; tips to consider are to practice movements such as, reaching while standing, toe and heel raises, stepping in different directions, step-ups, or half squats. Other ways to challenge your balance would be to join sports that target balance such as tai chi or yoga.

The next key area is to build strength, ways to build strength to prevent a fall are through exercises for your leg muscles by utilizing bands, weights, or your own body weight. Build strength by doing squats, hamstring curls, and side leg lifts.

Another way to maintain balance and strength is by being consistent and staying active. Do activities that you enjoy doing, which will make completing these activities less like a task to stay healthy and rather a moment in your day you like to do. Try to do 30 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous activity or exercise at least 5 times per week.

Falls can mostly be avoided by taking steps to reduce the risk of falling. Finding Balance has a lot of helpful informatio­n on reducing the risk falling and staying healthy with resources on: medication­s, vitamins and supplement­s; vision and eye health; getting a good night’s sleep; eating healthy; staying hydrated; wearing proper shoes and maintainin­g footcare; getting around safely in your home; and getting around in your community. Take a look at the website and inform yourself on all things related to falls prevention.

All Canadians have a role to play in preventing falls, let’s all do our part to create an impact on staying independen­t and preventing falls and fall-related injuries across the lifespan.

Chloe Trautman is a Health Promotion Facilitato­r in Alberta Health Services’ Population Health Promotion Program, in the South Zone.

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