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Top Five Ways Seniors Can Prevent a Fall

At Canterbury, our number one priority is keeping our residents safe. With snow and ice now blanketing the sidewalks and streets, we want to take this opportunity to empower our residents with the information they need to maintain their independence.

Half of Albertans over the age of 80 fall at least once a year. Falls are not only the leading cause of injury among seniors, they are the cause of 95 percent of hip fractures. In recognition of Fall Prevention month, here are the top five ways seniors can prevent a fall this winter:

Move your Body

Physical activity not only boosts energy, maintains strength and reduces the risk of chronic illness - it can help seniors fend off falls. Exercising improves attention and balance and can reduce the fear of falling. According to Heidi Hadubiak, Canterbury’s Health Services Director, strength, balance and coordination are key.

“Staying strong and agile is one of the biggest protective measures we can take,” she says. Residents can participate in many group physical activities on site at Canterbury including strength training, yoga, aerobics, walking, gardening and bowling.

Check your Vision

November days offer only about 10 hours of daylight. That can make it tricky to see obstacles or changes in the terrain. In order to prevent falls, seniors should ensure they are attentive to their surroundings and give their eyes enough time to adjust to changes in light. It is also important to keep up with annual eye exams to account for changes in vision, which can also increase the risk of falling.

Reevaluate Medications

As seniors grow older, their need for medication, supplements and vitamins may change. “Have your doctor or pharmacist review your medications and take a look to see if any might put you at an increased risk for a fall,” says Hadubiak. She adds these could include medications that address sleeping problems, pain or anxiety.

Footwear & Footcare

Keeping feet healthy is imperative to maintain the good balance required to avoid a fall. For seniors and their caregivers, the best line of defence comes from taking good care of feet. Some tips include; using warm water to wash feet, elevate them while resting to prevent swelling, and check for corns, open sores, dry skin and redness. 

When it comes to footwear, support is essential. Wear comfortable shoes with a tread and add traction devices or winter boots to handle the slippery conditions. It’s important to be vigilant indoors as well. “We recommend more of a house shoe or a slipper with a rubber grip,” Hadubiak says. “Old fashioned fuzzy slippers can be an issue.”

Know your Environment

Some of the biggest hazards for falls are right inside the home. “The bathroom is one of the most common places,” Hadubiak says. Residents and caregivers can try to make their home slip and trip proof by putting grip mats both inside and outside the bathroom and shower, keeping floors clear of clutter and cords, and using motion sensors and night lights.

When outdoors, seniors should always watch for cracks or icy patches on walking routes, use well-lit marked crosswalks, and sit for a rest when they need it.

We encourage residents who want more information about fall prevention or other mobility issues to pop by Canterbury’s nurse station.