AHS Weekly Wellness News: November is Seniors’ Falls Prevention Month

Anyone can fall – prevent it from happening to you

Irma Naf, an 87-year-old Calgarian who lives independently, knows the value of prevention when it comes to avoiding falls.

Naf has neuropathy, which causes weakness and numbness in her feet, impacting her balance. She had bars installed in her shower to provide support as she steps in and out. She also uses a cane and occasionally takes a walker to give her confidence when she walks, especially longer distances. Using this equipment reduces the possibility of falling and allows her to get out regularly, meeting friends and playing cards every week.

“You can stay at home and feel sorry for yourself, or you can take some preventative steps and get on with your life,” says Naf, who learned about preventive steps by accessing services at the the Calgary Falls Prevention Clinic operated by Alberta Health Services.

Anyone can fall, but as we grow older, the risk increases. Falls are the leading cause of serious injuries in older adults. Every year, one in three Alberta seniors will fall. More disturbing, if a senior falls, there is a good chance he/she will fall again within six months. While falls may not seem serious, they can cause physical injury and create a fear of getting up and around. Being less mobile makes you more susceptible to falling, thus seriously diminish your quality of life. The good news is you can take steps to prevent this from happening to you.

Entering its seventh year, the Finding Balance campaign aims to raise awareness about seniors’ falls. The campaign promotes real life strategies for older adults to reduce their risk of falling, including:

  • Keep Active –improve strength and balance
  • Watch your Step – wherever you are
  • Check your Medications – talk to your doctor or pharmacist
  • Speak up about dizziness or any fall events you have experienced – talk to your doctor and take action

This November, Seniors’ Falls Prevention Month focuses on the ‘Keep Active’ message. Regular physical activity improves your balance, makes you stronger and helps prevent falls. Even something as simple as tapping your feet and lifting each leg in a stepping motion while sitting can maintain the joint function you need to keep moving. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about the best exercise program for you. Your activity goal can be set especially for you to reach at least 150 minutes of activity spread out across the week, every week.

“Being careful is the thing,” says Naf. “The most important thing is to realize that you might not have the same balance that you used to,” she says. “And get some help to make sure you don’t fall.”

Why not start getting active today? In partnership with UWALK, Finding Balance is hosting a virtual trek across Alberta. The TREK challenge begins in Coutts, Alberta and finishes in Fitzgerald, Alberta. A TREK passport explains how to join, how to count steps or convert minutes of other activities such as swimming or dancing to steps, and where to log steps. You can count your steps online or by calling 1-844-492-6014. To participate in the TREK or order a passport, visit www.albertavirtualtrek.ca.

For more information about falls prevention or programs in your area, visit www.findingbalancealberta.ca

(Alberta Health Services)