Falls remain the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations among Canadian seniors, and between 20% and 30% of seniors fall each year. Falls and associated outcomes not only harm the injured individuals but also affect family, friends, care providers and the health care system. Self-reported injuries due to falls are increasing, specifically by 43% between 2003 and 2009/2010. The majority of falls resulted in broken or fractured bones, and over one third of fall-related hospitalizations among seniors were associated with a hip fracture.
Trips and stumbles outside are more common than to lose footing indoors. For the elderly, injuries from having a fall often limit mobility and increase the risk for early death. Nearly half of tumbles outdoors are related to walking, particularly on uneven sidewalks or tripping over curbs. Those at highest risk for falling outdoors are individuals with balance, vision or cognitive impairment, or weakness in the lower extremities. Fortunately, many of the slips and falls outside for elders can be prevented by the following measures:
- Stay aware of uneven terrain or slippery surfaces - watch for holes, tree roots and ice.
- Check the height of curbs and steps before stepping up on them or down from them.
- Wear correct eyewear when walking - reading glasses or bifocals can distort the ability to see potential hazards.
- Walk in well-lit areas in the evening to provide the most visibility for hazards.
- Keep your hands free, when possible – use a messenger or other over-the-shoulder bag should the need arise to break a fall.
- Wear sturdy, low-heeled shoes for better balance.
Right at Home caregivers are trained to help the elderly with balance issues use walkers or canes and step carefully onto curbs or up steps. Our caregivers also can keep an eye on steps, porches and patios for worn-down areas or loose nails. Limiting outdoor fall hazards keeps everyone safe to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.
How do you keep your elderly loved one from falling outdoors?