According to the World Health Organization, road traffic injuries are unsurprisingly the leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide. But did you know that falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury death with over 600 000 deaths yearly? (1) In addition, non-fatal falls can result in hip breaks and brain injuries, resulting in decreased quality of life and a significant financial burden on the affected individual and the health-care system.
The population most affected by falls are the elderly, specifically 65 and older. According to a 2017-2018 Candian Institute for Health Prevention report, 4 out 5 injury hospitalizations among the elderly were due to falls. (2) The reasons for the falls are many, but major ones are slips and trips and medication side-effects. Slips and trips are more likely to occur in individuals affected by chronic diseases such as CVD, Parkinson’s, arthritis and a state of disability resulting from a cognitive impairment. Some medication side-effects, such as drowsiness and drop in blood pressure, can increase the risk of falling in the elderly. (3)
However, there are many ways one can prevent falls by implementing lifestyle interventions and making the living environment fall-proof.
- Exercise- Engaging in exercises designed for seniors that help with mobility, balance and strength can significantly contribute to fall prevention.
- Healthy diet- Maintaining a healthy diet rich in fibre, protein, fats and micro-nutrients from natural sources helps maintain optimal bone and muscle function.
- Footwear-Slip-resistant footwear is highly recommended for seniors for indoor and outdoor use.
- Assistive equipment- Utilizing assistive equipment such as walking canes and hiking poles can be especially helpful when walking outdoors.
- Home safety- Installing and utilizing hand-rails in the home and minimizing and, if possible, removing potential slip and trip hazards such as raised carpets, slippery flooring and obstructive furniture is greatly recommended. Part of the house that requires special attention is the bathroom since it’s considered the highest-risk environment according to Alison Novak, a fall-prevention researcher at Toronto Rehab Institute. (4)
Author: Matija Vugrinicek
Myant Product Manager - Health and Wellness