November is Fall Prevention Month
Everyone experiences a fall now and then. While most falls do not cause serious injury, occasionally we are reminded of how even a simple fall from standing can be catastrophic. Falls are especially devastating among older adults causing over 90% of hip fractures and 60% of head injuries. In fact, on average, every 10 minutes a senior is hospitalized because of a fall.
Some people believe that falls are a normal part of aging and can’t be prevented, or that it won’t happen to them. The truth is: There are many things you can do to prevent falls. Many risk factors are within our control to change.
What can you do to help prevent falls?
- Keep your body active: You are less likely to fall if you have strong muscles and good balance.
- Have your eyes checked by an optometrist once a year: Good vision can reduce your risk of falling.
- Have your doctor or pharmacist review your medications: Some medications can make you feel drowsy, dizzy, or unsteady on your feet.
- Make your home safer: Falls are often due to home hazards that are easy to overlook but easy to fix
For more information about falls prevention go to www.findingbalancebc.ca.
How OT Can Help Prevent Falls
Occupational Therapists often addresses fall prevention as an important step towards preventing further injury. An occupational therapist can support you to carry out activities that you enjoy or want to do safely through:
- Advice, ideas and equipment
- Advice to improve strength and balance
- Support to talk through any fear of falling
OTs manage your underlying fall risk factors and optimize your home design and environment. In the initial assessment, an OT can assess your home and other places you frequent. The goal is to be as safe as possible with the tools and measures already in place. Should further direction be necessary, OTs can organize equipment supply, implement exercise programs, discuss the risks of various daily activities and suggest home modifications.
Here are some examples of how a prior injury may put people at risk for a fall and the steps OTs can take to improve your condition and reduce the risk of further pain
- Pain medication can make you dizzy, sleepy or nauseous. An OT may suggest that you sit down while doing activities such as getting dressed or that you use a tall stool instead of standing in the kitchen.
- Maintaining balance becomes more difficult if you break or fracture an arm. An OT may help you organize your kitchen so that you don’t have to reach high for dishes or food while your arm heals.
- Moving with crutches can be challenging when going up and down stairs. An OT can assess whether you are able to use the stairs safely while on crutches or can make recommendations for room utilization on the main floor until your ability to walk improves.
Here are more resources, tools and strategies to protect yourself and those you care about from a fall. Share these with your loved ones to better ensure health and safety for all.
- Fall Prevention guide (Vancouver Coastal Health) – http://www.vch.ca/public-health/health-topics-a-z/topics/fall-prevention
- Exercises to improve balance (Harvard Medical School) – https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/balance-training-seems-to-prevent-falls-injuries-in-seniors-201310316825.
- Home safety suggestions (Government of British Columbia) – https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/seniors/health-safety/disease-and-injury-care-and-prevention/fall-prevention/what-you-can-do-to-prevent-a-fall/home-safety-checklist
- Fall Prevention Month (Finding Balance British Columbia) – http://www.fallpreventionmonth.ca/toolkit/resources/finding-balance-british-columbia-campaign-toolkit.
- The Safe Living Guide (Public Health Agency of Canada) – http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/seniors-aines/publications/public/injury-blessure/safelive-securite/pdfs/safelive-securite-eng.pdf
- Home modification support (BC Housing) – https://www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/rental-assistance-financial-aid-for-home-modifications/home-adaptations-for-independence