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Falls are the leading cause of fractures, injury and deaths among persons over the age of 65.  The prevention of falls greatly improves the chances of staying at home. 

Falls can happen any time and any place, but two-thirds of falls by senior citizens occur in the home during everyday activities like walking across a cluttered room, slipping on a throw rug or a wet floor, standing on a stool or using the stairs.  Many of these accidents could be prevented by an item as simple as tape, a bathtub grab bar, or by the repair or installation of a stairway railing. 

There is a pattern to falls and their aftermath.  An injury followed by hospitalization, decreased independence and mobility, and relocation to an institution is too often the norm.  A fall can be a major life-changing event that causes many elderly people to lose the opportunity to stay at home. 

Just the fear of falling can create considerable anxiety - a form of paralysis.  This condition can erode self-confidence and lead to severe restrictions in daily activities, which in turn can cause social isolation and depression. 

The number of falls and severity of injury increases with age.  According to According to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Seniors Fall Second Report, the cost of falls to older persons, their families, and other taxpayers in Canada is huge.  Aside from the negative physical and mental health consequences of falling, there are significant associated financial costs, estimated at $2 billion annually, a value 3.7 times greater than that for younger adults.  

When hospitalization data are examined, the results show that seniors who are hospitalized for a fall remain in hospital an average of nine days longer than those hospitalized for any cause. This discrepancy highlights the disproportionate health care costs of fall-related injuries in comparison to other causes of hospitalization. 
 
Even more worrying is that the number of deaths due to falls increased by 65% from 2003 to 2008.

 

Take heart, steps can be taken to prevent falls by identifying the major risk factors and taking some common sense precautions

 


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