30-50% of seniors experience a fall each year. About a 1/3 of these are serious falls.
In 2009 Ontario researchers found that 50% of injury-related hospitalizations were due to falls and over 90% of all hip fractures were due to falls. Fifty- five out of every 1,000 seniors went to the hospital emergency rooms as a result of a fall and 13 out of 1,000 seniors were hospitalized due to a fall.
As people age, there is an increased risk of falls due to decreased sight, hearing, posture changes (tendency to bestooped over) and slower reaction speed.
Medical conditions such as arthritis, pain, cataracts, hip surgery, previous strokes and conditions such as Parkinson’sdisease also affect how individuals walk, and increase the risk of tripping and falling. Balance can also be affected bychronic conditions such diabetes and heart disease.
Side effects of medications such as sedatives (sleeping or medications to reduce anxiety), strong pain medication, and heart medications can contribute to an increased risk of falls. The more medications someone takes the more likely the side effects may contribute to falls. It is important to consult with the family physician and/or the nurse practitioner to review medications if falls (or near falls) is a concern.
A fear of falling may modify someone’s behaviour (reactions) and actually increase the risk of falls.
Most falls occur in the home: often in bedroom, bathroom and on the stairs.
Prevention of falls is the goal. Creating a safer home environment can help reduce the risk of falls. A home assessment by a physiotherapist or occupational therapist can provide recommendations for improvements in certain areas of the home and also exercises to reduce risk of falls.