Wednesday, September 7, 2016
What about falling?
We fall, and falling is not a remote possibility for seniors. It is likely to happen. However, when a person falls he or she needs to have a plan in place to get help. My mother-in-law fell and we thought she was okay, three weeks later, she was in the hospital with a concussion. Falls are the leading cause of injuries among older Canadians and the sixth leading cause of death. Among seniors, falls are responsible for:
· 40% of residential care admissions
· 84% of injury-related hospitalizations
· 90% of hip fractures; 50% of these never regain pre-fall functioning and 20% die within a year of the fracture
Each year 1/3 of seniors fall at least once and are then 3 times more likely to fall again. Note that 50% of people who fracture their hips NEVER regain pre-fall functioning.
Why do seniors fall? Well, it is because of decreased strength, stability and confidence. Women are 3 times more likely than men to be hospitalized for a fall-related injury. The older you are, the more likely you will fall and be seriously injured.
Almost half of all fall injuries occur in your home doing daily activities
In Canada, health care for seniors injured by falls costs at least $2 billion per year
In BC, falls among seniors cost more than $180 million each year
So what kind of injury can occur when seniors fall:
There were in 2014, 3,100 hip fractures – the most frequent injury, and 10,000 hospitalizations due to falls in Canada.
Other costs that cannot be measured in dollars when seniors fall are the pain and suffering and perhaps permanent disabilities, along with loss of independence & reduced quality of life, that may come with admission to long term care and finally the damaging effects on families.
Half of falls occur in the home so here are some steps to take to reduce the possibilities of a fall at home
· Remove clutter from walkways and stairs
· Install and use grab bars and handrails
· Increase wattage of light bulbs to 100 or more
· Eliminate high contrast lighting areas
· Use night lights and/or motion-activated lights
· Clean up spills in the kitchen and bathroom immediately
· Use step stools and/or reachers; even better, keep items you use often within easy reach
· Reorganize all cords that go across areas where you walk