IFA Guest Blogger: Marguerite Oberle Thomas, Consultant -Liaison, Fall Prevention Community of Practice. Thomas, a senior, has worked in Injury Prevention since 1996.
Fall Prevention Month is a November campaign initiated for the fourth year by pan-Canadian partnering organizations that assist intermediaries who work with older adults and those at risk of injury due to falls. Why do we need to promote Fall Prevention Month? The motto says it all “It takes a community to prevent a fall: We all have a role to play”. When someone falls, it affects the individual, the family, the community and the health care system. The partners and contributors who make it happen in Canada recognize that fall prevention is an international issue and invite advocates everywhere to adapt and utilize the ideas and resources created over the past four years.
As both a senior and someone still in the workforce, the first hurdle for many seniors is to acknowledge that falls are not an inevitable part of ageing and that there is much that can be done on a personal, home and community level.
On a personal level, there are some things that cannot be changed such as your genetic background and past history of falls. However, general health is most important and helpful strategies include:
Less well known is the role of hearing checks. People fall when they misstep while concentrating on blocking out noise while listening to what they want to hear. Fear of falling is a huge factor as well, as it can inhibit the free and vigorous movements that keep our muscles strong. Mood and mental ability need to be considered. Medical conditions can loom large. Conditions that affect balance, strength and flexibility are all risk factors as are certain medications and the use of alcohol or cannabis.
On the home front, the first step would be to obtain a home safety checklist. Many of these available online or are located at your local health care centres. Lists should include all the rooms in your home with suggestions for improvement. Considerations include:
Most pertinent this time of the year is safe winter walking. Helpful tips include:
In the community and public places: Speak up, be proactive, and support Age friendly Communities. Biggest personal tip: Slow down and think ahead. It is often several factors that make a fall happen and hurrying is a major culprit. Stay safe and enjoy the social and physical wellbeing that comes from being active and avoiding falls.