Finding Balance promotes fall prevention

Even though November is nearing its end, the message of a month-long campaign aimed at helping prevent seniors’ falls applies of course year-round.

‘Finding Balance’ was spearheaded by the Alberta Centre for Injury Control & Research and the Alberta Medical Association back in 2008.

The campaign promotes a number of ways seniors can keep safe from falls.

“Falls become increasingly common as people age,” said Dr. Jack Bromley, a Red Deer family physician.

He said seniors also often face issues including a nervous system that doesn’t function as well, vision that isn’t as sharp as it once was and decreased overall strength. All of these can contribute to an increased vulnerability to falling.

Finding Balance provides information about exercises seniors can do to build and maintain strength and balance. Also, it’s encouraged that a review of medications be done with a doctor or pharmacist.

Bromley noted that particularly when there is a mix of medications, side effects making a person more vulnerable to falls can surface.

Bromley also added that adding to the impact of falls is that the breaking of hips is a particular concern to elderly folks as well.

Ultimately, helping prevent falls boils down to lifestyle practices including staying active and building physical fitness.

It’s also helpful to keep floors clutter-free, have one’s vision checked regularly and for folks to be careful about what they’re wearing on their feet, he said.

Statistics from the Finding Balance initiative show that falls are the leading cause of injury for older adults in Alberta. Also, one in three seniors in the community will experience a fall each year while up to 50% of those in institutions will fall.

In 2008, $96 million was spent on fall-related hospital admissions. And with an ageing population, the picture looks even worse. By 2031, when the majority of baby boomers become seniors, the cost for seniors’ falls – if unchecked – is expected to reach $228 million. That’s a jump of 137%.

“Physicians see the immediate and long-term outcomes for seniors who sustain injuries when they fall,’ said Dr. Patrick White, president of the Alberta Medical Association. “The Finding Balance campaign has important messages for seniors and their caregivers. We hope that seniors hear these messages and take steps to prevent falls, and to help them remain strong, healthy and independent.”

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