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PREVENTING FALLS

- Older Adults Can Reduce Their Risk of Falling by Taking Positive Steps in the Right Direction -

Local seniors are being encouraged to give the slip to falls by taking steps to stay on solid footing.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is joining other groups in promoting Ontario’s first Fall Prevention Month in November. Preventing falls is an important issue, especially when more than 100,000 seniors wind up in Ontario hospital emergency rooms every year due to falls-related injuries. An estimated one in three seniors fall every year.

“Considering the current rate of falls in Ontario, we must ensure proven prevention efforts are put in place. Fall Prevention Month is a good start to making real progress in this important public health issue,” says Joanne Brewster, a Health Promoter with the HKPR District Health Unit.

Falls are common in local communities, and can be the cause of very serious and life-threatening injuries, especially among older residents. However, Brewster notes that the impact of falls not only affects the individuals who fell, but their loved ones and caregivers as well. “All of us are affected in some way by falls, so the entire community has a role to play in addressing the problem,” she says.

According to Brewster, the first step to preventing falls is to consider potential warning signs. Six warning signs of falls for people 65 years of age and older include:

• a previous fall in the past six months

• a constant fear of falling

• the use of multiple medications and drugs

• balance and mobility problems

• medical conditions such as stroke or Parkinson’s disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease

• vision issues such as blurred/double vision and difficulty seeing steps or walking in dim light.

“If people have multiple warning signs, they are considered at higher risk of falls,” Brewster notes. “The good news is that most falls are preventable and there are many proactive ways to help older adults stay on their feet.”

To help prevent falls, the Health Unit offers these tips:

• Stay or become more active. Focus especially on lower body strength and balance.

• Review all medications with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure they are appropriate for your condition.

• Get annual eye checkups and update your eyeglasses.

• Make your home and living space safer to get around. Remove clutter and tripping hazards, put railings on all stairs, add grab bars in the bathroom, and have good lighting especially on stairs and entryways.

With winter on the horizon, Brewster also encourages local residents to take further precautions. “Keep walkways, steps and driveways well-lit and clear of snow and ice. Have a shovel and a bag of salt/sand ready to keep sidewalks clean,” she notes. “If clearing snow is difficult, arrange for someone else to shovel snow for you.”

For more on falls prevention initiatives in Northumberland County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 or visit Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre.

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For media inquiries, contact:

In Northumberland County: Joanne Brewster, Health Promoter, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100.

In Haliburton County: Angela Andrews, Health Promoter, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, (705) 457-1391.

In City of Kawartha Lakes: Doreen Boville, Health Promoter, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569.

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