The first snowfall of the season can lead to increased concern of falling amongst our older population. Falling accidents can lead to serious injuries such as fractured bones and are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. As a result, falls make up a large percentage of hospitalizations each year and have a direct effect on the quality of life of our seniors.
Parallel to the aging process, there are a number of factors that can contribute to a person's risk of falling. According to the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, (RNAO) changes in vision, decreased balance and coordination, and side effects from taking medications can all affect an individuals level of risk.
As a method to try and decrease the incidence of falls, the Canadian Falls Prevention Curriculum CFPC was created to help injury prevention practitioners reduce injury in Ontario. The CPFC conducts work shops all across the country to help practitioners identify risk factors, implement new practises and evaluate the best way to prevent injury from falling.
Here's what the CFPC suggests a proper falls prevention program should include:
-An initial assessment to find out an individuals risk level and likelihood of falling. They suggest that there should also be regular on-going assessments to ensure that risk level does not increase over time.
-Professional review of all medications. Older adults are more likely to be taking a variety of medications that sometimes have side effects that can cause poor vision, dizziness and other factors that can further contribute to the risk of falling.
-A proper assessment conducted by a physiotherapist to ensure appropriate assistive devices are being used (walker, cane etc).
-A proper exercise and strengthening program. Its important that seniors stay active to make sure muscles stay strong. Fear of falling results in older adults becoming less active contributing to muscular weakness and in turn, placing them at a higher risk of falling.
-Create a safe environment. Make sure homes are clear of obstacles and find a safe environment to exercise in. The RNAO suggests classes like "T'ai Chi" as an effective way to strengthen major muscle groups, as well as challenge balance and stability.
-Post fall follow up. If in fact an individual does experience a fall its important to seek medical attention right away and take the necessary steps to begin a recovery / fall prevention program.
Creating a proper falls prevention program based on the CFPC guidelines can not only lower risk of falling but also decrease the risk of acquiring a serious injury as a result of a fall.
Start your prevention program by calling us at 705-874-8000 to learn more about our T'ai Chi and Falls Prevention fitness classes.