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Don’t Fall for Trip Hazards!

Nov 5, 2019

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that there tends to be a correlation between an aging population and hospitalization rates. With Canada being comprised of an ever-growing number of senior citizens, it’s important to know what’s causing these hospital visits so we can help address these causes as a society.

November 6 – 12 is National Senior Safety Week and this year, the Canada Safety Council is shedding light on the most common causes of injury-related hospitalizations among seniors. As a demographic, Canadians over the age of 65 are disproportionately represented in hospitalization statistics, which prompts the question: what can we do to help?

According to Statistics Canada, seniors aged 65 and above account for 35 per cent of our population – and this number is likely to continue its upward trend in the near future.

And yet, according to new research by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, this same demographic is represented in 51 per cent of all injury-related hospitalizations in Canada in 2017-2018. (Hospitalization is defined as a patient being admitted and spending at least one night in the hospital.)

An overwhelming majority of these 137,568 cases were fall-related, too ­– a whopping 81 per cent of all senior injury hospitalizations in 2017-2018 were due to falls. Comparatively, falls represent only nine per cent of all injury hospitalizations in Canada between 2015 and 2018.

“In an aged population there are many influences that contribute to falls and injuries” said Gareth Jones, President of the Canada Safety Council.   “The valued and often vulnerable members of this segment of our society rely on assistance and proactive measures to ensure their safety and ultimately their quality of life.  Let’s work together and do our part to assist.”

If you’re helping to take care of a senior, fall prevention must be at the forefront of your mind. Between physical conditions, deteriorating health and potential medication side-effects, falls can be much more likely to occur. Follow these tips and you won’t have to live in fear of dealing with the repercussions of a serious fall.

  • Physical activity can reduce the chances of a fall. Gentle exercise can improve flexibility, balance and muscle strength; all of these are important factors in maintaining stability.
  • Make sure living areas are well-illuminated. Bright lighting makes it easier to spot potential trip hazards ahead of time and avoid them. This should include a bedside lamp within reach of the bed, hallways, staircases and bathrooms. Consider keeping a few flashlights in easy-to-find places as well.
  • Along those same lines, keep living areas as clear and free of trip hazards as possible. Keep furniture, boxes, electrical cords and any loose objects away from high-traffic areas. Loose rugs should be secured with double-sided tape or tacks to avoid slipping.
  • Invest in a good pair of non-slip shoes. While convenient and comfortable, slippers and slick-soled shoes can be contributing factors in falls, as can wearing only socks. Comfortable non-slip shoes can also reduce joint pain and contribute toward more stability.
  • Install rails, grab bars and other assistive devices around the house, especially high-mobility areas like staircases and bathtubs. For everyday use, consider a cane or a walker as well.

A healthy senior community benefits all Canadians and eases the strain on our healthcare system. It’s our responsibility to ensure that we’re doing our part to keep our loved ones out of harm’s way!

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For more information, please contact:
Lewis Smith
Manager, National Projects, Canada Safety Council
613-739-1535 x228