Spring is less than a week away, but sidewalks and side streets continue to resemble skating rinks.
Been for a walk lately? It’s nearly impossible to stay upright — especially if you’re a senior citizen.
Check out the following press release passed along to me from former Sun colleague Yuri Wuensch:
The Finding Balance seniors fall prevention campaign is recharging to remind Alberta seniors about how they can prevent a fall before it happens, especially during these icy and snowy months.
The campaign, developed by founding partners the Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research (ACICR) and the Alberta Medical Association (AMA), has three core messages for seniors: Check Your Medications, Keep Active and Watch Your Step. By referring to these simple actions, seniors can help prevent falls and improve their quality of life.
The campaign’s recharge aims to promote a new educational diagram aimed at seniors that explains how to get up if a fall occurs. The campaign’s core messages, along with this diagram, have been expanded into 10 different languages. These materials can be accessed on the Finding Balance website for free.
“Finding Balance materials now better reflect the cultural diversity of our province.”
In 2008, $96 million was spent on seniors’ fall-related hospital admissions. While the costs to the health care system are significant, they are small when compared to the impacts on the lifestyle and activities of seniors who experience falls. The impact of these injuries can be devastating for seniors’ independence and quality of life.
Fortunately, there are simple steps seniors can take to help prevent falls.
Check Your Medications
Seniors are encouraged to have their doctor or pharmacist review all medications they take every year. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter pills, vitamins and herbal supplements. Medications that help with relaxation, sleep or improve one’s mood can increase the risk of falling. As people age, the way some medications affect them can change, which may increase their risk of falling. And whether you’re a senior or not, alcohol can also affect medications and lead to falls.
Regular physical activity and exercise can increase muscle strength, improve balance and help prevent falls. Seniors are encouraged to walk, dance, swim or take an exercise class for at least 30 minutes a day. Seniors should consult with their doctor or health-care provider regarding an appropriate exercise program.
Watch Your Step
Staying active should be complemented by staying alert and not rushing. Keep pathways, halls and stairways well lit and free of clutter. Seniors should also have their eyes checked annually to ensure they can properly see ice, cracks and uneven surfaces while walking. They should also wear shoes that support their feet and help them keep their balance.
“With the freezing and thawing taking place across Alberta at this time of year, the Finding Balance messages are especially important, particularly for our senior population,” says Dr. Lyle B. Mittelsteadt, AMA’s senior medical advisor in professional affairs. “Be sure to wear appropriate winter footwear and watch for icy sidewalks and roadways when walking outside.”