Falls are the most common reason for injury-related hospitalization among elderly Canadians.(1) Here are Dr. Hussain’s five tips to help prevent falls for seniors:
Fall-proof your surroundings.
Most falls occur at home, in the bedroom or bathroom. Fall-proof your home by ensuring adequate lighting, keeping the floor free of obstacles, avoiding loose area rugs, and tucking cords away. In the bathroom, install grab bars and a non-slip mat in the tub or shower. (2)
Take care of your eyes.
Stay on top of your vision to help avoid falls. Go for regular vision checks as your eyesight can change as we age. Prevent the risk of falls by wearing the correct prescription, keeping your eyeglasses clean, and not wearing reading glasses when walking. (3)
Manage your medication.
As we age, many of us take more medications, over-the-counter products and supplements. Reduce the risk of falls by being aware of any interactions or side effects of medications and other health products. Some medication can cause side effects that increase your risk of falls. Make sure your health care provider is aware of what you are taking and report any side effects to your doctor right away. (4)
Be physically active.
Daily moderate aerobic activity – about 20–30 minutes each day – is good for your health, well-being, and quality of life. Add muscle and bone strengthening activities that use major muscle groups at least twice a week. This will help your posture and balance. If regular exercise is new to you, check with your doctor, start slowly, and build up over time.(5)
Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
Good nutrition and a healthy diet are important at all ages, and as we get older can help promote mobility, strength, and balance. Skipping meals or poor nutrition can cause dizziness, make you feel light-head, or reduce concentration, all of which may lead to a fall. Eat a well-balanced diet and speak with your doctor about supplements such as vitamin D, which protects against osteoporosis and keeps muscles stronger when you exercise.(6)
Dr. Fatima Maryam Hussain, MBBCh FRCPC is a Geriatrician in the Senior’s Health program at William Osler Health System (Osler). After completing her medical degree at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dr. Hussain completed her Internal Medicine Residency at Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital in Denver, Colorado, and her Geriatrics Fellowship at the University of Manitoba, Canada.