Reducing the Risk of Falling for Seniors

Posted by Stevenson Whelton LLP
August 07, 2019

The Canadian Institute for Health Information reported that accidental falls were the most frequent cause of injury in Canada in 2017, and these types of accidents resulted in about 1800 visits to emergency rooms every day.   Seniors are more vulnerable than any other age group, both in terms of falling and sustaining long-term injuries.

Two of the most common and serious injuries experienced by seniors who fall are hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries.  These injuries are often disabling but can also be a matter of life and death.  Seniors who sustain a hip injury have a 20 percent chance of dying due to complications, such as pneumonia and blood clots” (as reported in ‘The Current’).  
  

For older adults and seniors, 90 per cent of hip fractures are caused by falling.  One solution to this problem is the use of protective padding such as a hip protector that can be worn under a person’s clothing.  When tested in 14 Vancouver nursing homes, the hip protectors resulted in a one-third reduction in hip fractures for residents (as reported in CBC News, July 10).   Scientists are also testing floor surfaces with different textures which reduce the likelihood of falling.  

The bathroom is potentially the most dangerous place in the home for seniors, and bathrooms are the most common location where falls occur.  Over 70 per cent of falls happen when persons are getting in and out of the bathtub or shower.  The reason for this is that physical abilities and balance control decline when we get older and this circumstance makes seniors more susceptible to falling when they step over an obstacle such as the rim of a bathtub. And sadly, bathing disability is a primary reason why older adults can no longer stay in their home, so addressing this problem can have huge benefits for seniors.,

A study reported in the American Journal of Occupational Medicine in 2017 investigated a variety of assistive devices that can help prevent falling while getting in and out of the bathtub.  The study found that a vertical grab bar on the side wall provided the most safety and control during bathtub transfers. Bath mats, when placed parallel to the bathtub rim, also improved balance control.

However, seniors can reduce their risk of falling in every situation by maintaining a higher level of fitness through regular exercise and healthy eating.  Physiotherapist, Barbara Adams, told The Current that ‘sitting too much’ is a common circumstance among seniors and significantly increases their risk of falling.  Ms. Adams recommended doing squats and going from sitting to standing every day to lesson the risk of falling. 

Exercising, such as balance and resistance training, doesn’t only improve physical fitness and balance, it also improves cognitive abilities in seniors and this further reduces the chance of falling.  Exercising has a positive effect on the brain’s frontal lobe health, which helps control the way we walk and can also help us focus on maintaining our balance when we’re multi-tasking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: Our blog is intended to inform our existing and prospective clients about topics pertinent to their lives. While our goal is to provide accurate and factual information, this in no way should be taken as legal advice or applied to specific cases. It is in your best interest to contact a licenced and practising lawyer for legal representation, as matters of the law are often complicated and cannot be fully assessed without knowing all of the details of a case.