November 21, 2015
The prevalence of falls among Ontario’s seniors has prompted the development of a major region-wide awareness program by a coalition of health care professionals in the Southwest region. The campaign, Finding Balance, is aimed at educating and raising awareness among seniors and future generations of seniors about the importance of leading a healthy and safe lifestyle.
London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is encouraging the awareness campaign, but also the use of the new online resources available for seniors and caregivers at www.findingbalanceontario.ca.
“Every ten minutes, a fall sends someone to the emergency room,” says Jane Harrington, injury prevention specialist, LHSC. “The Finding Balance materials available online help seniors live a safe and healthy lifestyle, but there are also assessment tools and medication fact sheets available for caregivers.”
As seniors age, they are increasingly likely to lose their balance, fall and suffer an injury – often with devastating consequences. Finding Balance focuses on educating seniors on proven interventions such as improving health and fitness, making one’s home safer, reviewing medications and speaking up about dizziness.
Over the last five years LHSC has treated 697 patients over the age of 55 for a traumatic injury due to a fall (i.e. severe injuries). 460 of these have been men. “697 trauma patients as a result of a fall is a significant number. Often these patients need support services when they go home,” elaborates Harrington.
Finding Balance was originally developed at the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health, but has been adapted for use in Ontario. Finding Balance is guided by an Advisory Committee of multi-disciplinary health care professionals from all over Southwestern Ontario, including organizations from Middlesex-London.
Steps to prevent falls
- Be sure to exercise 30 minutes every day to improve your strength and balance.
- Exercise will help to prevent a fall.
- Take an exercise class in your area.
Check your medication
- Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your medications, and have them review your medications every year.
- Medications can increase the chance of falling.
- Medications include your prescription, over-the-counter pills, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Watch your step
- Have your eyes checked every year.
- Wear shoes that will properly support your feet.
- Watch out for ice, and uneven surfaces.
- Keep walkways well lit and free of clutter.
- Have a grab bar installed in your bathroom. Ask your doctor about which type of grab bar you should use.
- Don’t rush or do too many things at once.
Finding Balance Ontario. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.Findingbalanceontario.ca