Falls in elderly Canadians are one of the main causes of moderate to severe injuries, including sprains, fractures, and head traumas. According to research, one in three elderly Canadians fall each year, and often the result is an injury that can permanently reduce their mobility and independence.

The fear of falling can be detrimental to the social, physical and cognitive health of a senior. Normal activities that come from leaving the home and venturing out to participate in social events help maintain a senior’s health, muscle strength, and balance, among other benefits.

How to Prevent Falls in Seniors

The truth is that falls in seniors are preventable. Modifying the home and reducing hazards outside the home in the community can greatly reduce falls. It is also important to identify and be mindful of other risk factors, such as side effects of medication or physical weakness.

A physiotherapist can help to improve the physical components related to fall prevention and rehabilitation. Physiotherapists can assist the elderly in maintaining their muscle strength, coordination and flexibility to recover from injuries and in preventing falls in seniors from occurring.

An added benefit is their ability to educate seniors on hazards that may contribute to falls, as well as work with them to build and strengthen muscle tone and coordination. By reviewing a senior’s medical history, assessing their current physical condition, and doing a series of tests that measure strength and flexibility, the physiotherapist can create a comprehensive program that will improve the senior’s physical function.

Tips for Preventing Falls in Seniors

  • Wear a solid, well-made pair of shoes that provide support and cushioning that is necessary for movement and walking
  • Avoid any shoes that may be unstable or slippery, such as those with an open-toe or with high-heels or slippers
  • Make sure areas of movement, such as stairwells and hallways, are well lit
  • Use a walking aid, such as a cane or walker – and view them as a source of aid and strength, not weakness or embarrassment
  • Ensure that the tips on canes and walkers are not worn and in good working order
  • Sit, rather than stand, while getting dressed
  • Rise slowly from sitting to standing or lying down to sitting to reduce possible dizziness or instability.
  • Install handrails, if necessary, in bathrooms or hallways.
  • Wipe up floor spills immediately.
  • Don’t take unnecessary risks by standing on furniture or putting yourself into an unsafe situations; wait for help or use a secure stepladder.
  • Ensure feet are well planted on the ground when getting out of a vehicle.
  • Put everyday items at eye level so you aren’t reaching up to grab things.
  • Be mindful around small children or pets, which can easily get underfoot and cause a fall.