Alberta Health Services (AHS) is letting Albertans know how they can stay safe, healthy and independent by preventing falls and other injuries.
Falls are the leading cause of injury and can affect individuals across all age groups, leading to serious harm. But most falls can be prevented. Here are tips to help prevent falls at any age:
For young children, stairs, windows, balconies and furniture such as beds or chairs are hazards for falls.
- Use wall-mounted gates at the top and bottom of stairs
- Actively watch children and ensure they are in safe environments
- Use window guards or window stops and keep furniture away from windows
- Watch for playground hazards: sharp items on swings, slides etc. Look for a softness underfoot, such as sand, wood chips etc. not a concrete surface.
- Have your child wear a certified helmet while skiing, snowboarding, sledding & tobogganing, or skating to reduce the risk of head injuries.
For Older Adults
One in three Albertans over age 65 will fall at least once a year. While the risk of falls increases as people age, falls are not a normal part of aging. Here are a few ways to prevent falls:
Keep Active to maintain strength and balance. Regular physical activity can help prevent injury and enhance independence, improving your overall quality of life. Specifically:
- Talk to your healthcare provider before beginning a new physical activity.
- Do activities that challenge strength, balance, endurance and flexibility.
- If you have mobility considerations, discuss strategies for staying active (see myhealth.alberta.ca)
- Use supportive footwear.
- Consider staying active with a friend/exercise partner for safety and socialization
- Watch for ice and slippery surfaces during colder weather.
Check Your Vision and ensure you have a complete annual eye exam.
- Allow your eyes time to adjust to light. Pay attention to surroundings to help prevent falls.
- Changes to your vision may increase your risk of falling. Alberta Health covers the cost of an annual eye exam for adults aged 65 and older. Some older adults may also be eligible for compensation for prescription eyeglasses.
Review Your Medications annually with your doctor or pharmacist.
- Ask questions about side effects, interactions, and proper dosing when you start a new medication.
- Some medications can increase the risk of falling. See FindingBalanceAlberta.ca
- Keep a master list of medicines at home and with you when you go out. See MyHealth.Alberta.ca
- Speak with your doctor if you experience dizziness.
Reduce falls in the home
- Keep floors and pathways clear of furniture, cords and clutter.
- Use non-slip mats on slippery surfaces like bathroom floors, kitchens and entry ways.
- Remove items you can trip over.
- Move furniture and electrical cords out of walking paths.
- Keep your home well-lit.
- If you use a cane, replace the rubber tip when it becomes worn.
- Ensure you have sturdy handrails along stairways.
Check in with your loved ones who may experience physical limitations as they age. Help clear away snow and ice along driveways to prevent falls outside the home.
If you fall or are hurt, getting the appropriate care you need is important. People with serious injuries should visit their nearest emergency department or call 911 for potentially life-threatening conditions.