November is Senior Falls Prevention month in Alberta.
Recently, the Central Alberta Falls Prevention Coalition hosted Walk With the Mayors in partnership with the Town of Penhold.
“The Coalition works to share the resources of the Finding Balance campaign and to encourage everyone, especially older adults, to keep active to prevent falls,” said Kathleen Raines, executive director of SCCA. “Community initiatives like Walk With the Mayors are a great opportunity to remind everyone that, ‘What’s predictable – like the risk of falling – is preventable’.
“With the Mayors’ Walk, our main message there was to encourage people to stay active as a means of maintaining their independence. The Finding Balance campaign really has three main messages – keeping active, check your vision and check your medication,” she said.
Every year, one in three Alberta seniors will fall, leading to potential disability, physical and mental distress and diminished quality of life, according to the Finding Balance campaign.
Keeping active is also important for one’s mental well-being, too, she said. “It gets our brains working, and quite often when we are walking we socialize.” And while winter is a tough time to get more active, seniors can take part in walks at local shopping centres as an example.
Ultimately, the Safe Communities Coalition of Central Alberta facilitates a variety of community partnerships designed to make Central Alberta the safest place to live, learn, work and play, she said. The Central Alberta Falls Prevention Coalition is a working committee of SCCA focused on providing education and resources to help reduce senior falls.
According to www.findingbalancealberta.ca, in 2011, every day in Alberta there were 24 fall-related hospital admissions and 66 emergency department visits.
Every hour in Alberta that year, there were more than three fall-related emergency department visits and almost one out of every three fall-related emergency department visits resulted in an admission to hospital.
In 2012, when comparing senior falls hospital admission rates for reporting provinces, Alberta had the third highest rate which was 2,140 admissions per 100,000 population. The overall rate was 1,739 admissions per 100,000 population.
Other important highlights from the Finding Balance campaign – falls can have a devastating and lasting impact on an individual resulting in injury, chronic pain, reduced quality of life and in severe cases, death.
Falls are also the most common cause of injury for seniors, and seniors have nine times more fall injuries compared to younger populations. Even without an injury, a fall can cause a loss in confidence and a reduction in activities, and statistics show that falls cause more than 95% of hip fractures among seniors.
Meanwhile, as mentioned, the campaign points to a number of preventative measures seniors and their families can take, including keeping active.
Also, some medications increase a person’s risk of falling. As you age, the way some medications affect you can change and increase your risk of falling. Officials say it’s important to have your doctor or pharmacist review all medications that you are taking every year and to remember that medications include prescriptions, over-the-counter pills, vitamins and herbal supplements.
To learn more about falls prevention, visit the Finding Balance web site at www.findingbalancealberta.ca.