Step Forward with Confidence

Falls Prevention: It's About Choice

  • Anyone can fall any time, any place.
  • We can make choices to reduce the risk of falls.
  • Everyone makes choices throughout life.

Read on to find out more about the choices you can make to lessen the risk of a fall and possible injury.

Our bodies change continously. Learning about the effects of these changes and learning how to adjust, can help one maintain independence and reduce the risk of falling.

"Over my life, I have adjusted my lifestyle every 10 years - at 50, 60, 70 and 80. Now I'm finding that I have to readjust more often so that I can do the activities I like."

"I am not going to fall"

No one is invincible. It can happen to any of us.

  • Up to twenty-five per cent of falls result in serious injurty such as a sprain or fracture.
  • One in three people over 65 falls at least once a year.
  • Forty per cent of nursing home admissions are as a result of a fall.

Most people believe a serious fall will not happen to them, and don't take necessary precautions to reduce their chance of falling. Remember the old adage.... Pride goeth before a fall.

"So what can I do? I want to stay in my own home as long as possible"

Solutions to prevent falls can be easy and fun.

Have a plan: Know what to do to prevent falls, and how to reach help if you fall.

Take charge: Talk to a nurse, health care practitioner, home care provider, or your doctor to identify your risk factors for falls. Identify the changes you make.

Prioritize: Once you have identified the things you can do to reduce your risks, decide which ones to address first.

Take action: Make the modifications to your lifestyle and environment.

Be assertive: Ask for help to reduce your risk factors, get a regular check-up, join a fitness program, adjust your pace, make the necessary modifications to your home, and report hazards in your community.

Keep Control to Avoid a Fall

What's the hurry?

To save time, we often rush, try to do too much at once, or take unnecessary risks.

  • Make a "to do" list to manage your time to avoid rushing and procrastination.
  • Try to focus on one task at a time.
  • Allow enough time to complete the task.
  • Keep the things you use often within easy reach.
  • Use the proper equipment when doing a task - for example, when climbing, use a step stool, not a chair.
"Instead of rushing to clean up after a family gathering, we now take time to enjoy our grandchildren."

Keep in shape:

Your body is aging and it sometimes lets you know it! It is important to stay healthy to reduce your risk of falling.

Your body needs regular maintenance and tune ups just like your car - treat it well!

  • General health, vision and hearing - Have regular checkups.
  • Medications - Some can make you dizzy or lightheaded. Talk with you pharmacist and doctor about the medications you take.
  • Nutrition - Follow Canada's Food Guide. Not eating enough food can make you weak and dizzy.
  • Fitness - Build physical activity into your daily routine. Include leg strength and balance exercises such as Tai Chi two to four times a week.
  • Footwear - Just like a car needs tires that fit and have good treads, so do you. Choose low heels and rubberized soles.
  • Accessorize - Check out fashionable but functional walking aids, e.g.- canes & ice grippers for boots.

Your Home:

Your home may be hazardous to your health and continued independence. Many falls are caused by tripping over things, or slipping in your home. Slippery floors, cluttered pathways and stairs with no hand rails are some things to avoid.

Assessing your indoor and outdoor environment, identifying your hazards and correcting them can reduce your risk of falling.

Your community:

We are all part of the solution. Communities need concerned citizens like you to recognize hazards and report them so that appropriate action can be taken. Communities want safe environments but cannot fix hazards they do not know about.

Uneven sidewalks, poor lighting, inadequate snow removal and de-icing, poorly designed stairs, and lack of ramp access to buildings are some of the hazards that increase the risk of a fall.

Reduce Your Fear of Falling

Acknowledge your concern: Your concern about falling is natural. Falls are a real threat to your independence and many people share this concern.

Explore your fear and your attitudes: Positive thoughts inspire positive action.

Be a problem solver:

  • Assess your personal risks.
  • Communicate assertively to get the information and the help you need.
  • Be proactive in making the changes in your life and your environment that will reduce your risk of falling.
  • Monitor any negative effects from medications and report them to your doctor.

Remember that your needs will change over time. Re-evaluate your risk factors and set goals to reduce them.

Need More Help or Information?

To learn more about Veterans Affairs Canada's health promotion activities, programs and services that are available to veterans, contact  your nearest Veterans Affairs Canada District Office.

Or Seniors Canada Online at...   http://www.seniors.gc.ca (Opens a new window)

To learn more about other matters important to seniors visit...   http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/seniors-aines/ (Opens a new window)

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