According to the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA), 1 in 3 elderly Canadians will fall each year. Half of those who fall will suffer moderate to severe injuries, like hip fractures, head trauma, and sprains. It is estimated that the direct costs to the Canadian healthcare system as a result of falls in seniors is approximately $1 BILLION every year. Falls can be physically and emotionally catastrophic to seniors, as they can permanently reduce their mobility and independence. Falls can result in the need for ongoing nursing and allied health care in their homes, or it can even necessitate a transfer to a nursing home.
Sadly, many elderly people become very fearful of falling; this can lead to them avoiding moving about in their homes or their communities. The resultant loss of strength and function not only leads to the potential for even further injury, but also “traps” and socially isolates seniors, which can lead to depression and anxiety.
The great news, however, is that 90% of incidents that result in injuries are predictable and preventable. There are certain risk factors which increase the likelihood of a fall, and if these factors are modified or eliminated, there is a significant drop in falls and their consequences. Below is a list of just some of the factors that can contribute to falls in seniors:
- Medication: many seniors take a large number of medications which may have side effects or adverse interactions. Side effects can include confusion, dizziness, and fatigue, which can contribute to falls.
- Impaired Vision
- Impaired Cognition (decreased mental functioning)
- Hazards in the home (e.g. loose area rugs, slippery bathtubs, poor lighting)
- Hazards in the community (e.g. snowy/icy sidewalks, curbs, poorly marked crosswalks)
A Registered Physiotherapist can review a senior’s health history to determine their general physical condition and will conduct a series of tests specifically designed to measure strength, flexibility, balance, and walking. If deficiencies are identified, the physiotherapist will prescribe a specific rehabilitation program to improve physical function and help prevent falls.
Contact Transcend Physiotherapy & Wellness to request your free handout: “Tips to Reduce the Risk of Falling”.