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Many people over age 65 take multiple prescriptions, over-the-counter pills, vitamins, and supplements. Even though these medications help reduce symptoms of other medical issues, they sometimes have side effects that put people at risk for falls. Here are some factors that put people at greater risk:

  • Taking 2 or more medications, vitamins, or supplements

  • Taking medications that improve relaxation, sleep, and mood

  • Taking medications that cause a drop in blood pressure

  • Drinking alcohol while taking medication

Our Falls Risk Calculator helps assess the risk of falling due to medications and other factors, including previous falls, being afraid of falling, experiencing balance and mobility difficulties, feeling dizzy, and vision problems. Answer the questions and inform your health care provider of the results. They can help you find ways to minimize your risk!

What You Can Do – Seniors

  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist about every prescription, over-the-counter pill, vitamin, and supplement you are taking. Use the Medication Record Book to keep track of everything!
  • Have your medications checked once a year by your doctor or pharmacist. The Ontario MedsCheck program allows you to schedule a 20-30 minute appointment with a pharmacist to review your medications. Your pharmacist can give you the information or you can call 1-866-255-6701 (TTY: 1-800-387-5599).
  • Return expired or outdated medications to your pharmacist.
  • Inform your pharmacist or doctor if your medications make you dizzy or drowsy.

 

What You Can Do – Families and Friends

  • Ask your loved ones what medications they are taking – including prescriptions, over-the-counter pills, vitamins, and supplements. Review the Medication Record Book with them and keep a copy on file.
  • Encourage your loved ones to talk to their pharmacist or doctor if you notice they are dizzy or drowsy after starting new medications.
  • Do not share your prescription medications with your loved ones.

What You Can Do – Professionals

  • Ask your clients what prescriptions, over-the-counter pills, vitamins, and supplements they are using each time you see them. Review their Medication Record Book regularly.
  • Review their medications each year to reduce drug interactions and negative side effects. Our Drug Side Effects and Minimization Chart gives information about how some types of drugs increase the likelihood of falls.
  • Educate your clients about the effects of drinking alcohol while taking medications.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falls are the leading cause of injury for older adults. Every 10 minutes, a fall sends someone over age 65 to the emergency room. After a fall, it can be hard to do day-to-day activities like getting dressed, sweeping, and walking. But we have good news: falls are predictable and preventable!

 

November is Seniors’ Falls Prevention Month and Finding Balance is the place to get all the tips and tools you need to stay healthy, safe, and independent! Check back each Monday in November to learn about the 4 Steps to Falls Prevention. We’ll provide information for seniors, health care providers, and families and friends about how to prevent falls and links to our risk assessment tools.

 

Here’s what you have to look forward to:

 

  • Step 1: Check Your Medications and Assess Your Risk

  • Step 2: Keep Active and Eat Healthy

  • Step 3: Watch Your Step and Wear The Right Clothing

  • Step 4: Keep Your Home Safe and Speak Up About Dizziness

 

Don’t forget to tell your friends, family, coworkers, and health care providers about Finding Balance – we’ve got something for everyone!

Falls are the leading cause of injury for older adults. Every 10 minutes, a fall sends someone over age 65 to the emergency room. After a fall, it can be hard to do day-to-day activities like getting dressed, sweeping, and walking. But we have good news: falls are predictable and preventable!

November is Seniors’ Falls Prevention Month and Finding Balance is the place to get all the tips and tools you need to stay healthy, safe, and independent! Check back each Monday in November to learn about the 4 Steps to Falls Prevention. We’ll provide information for seniors, health care providers, and families and friends about how to prevent falls and links to our risk assessment tools.

Here’s what you have to look forward to:

  • Step 1: Check Your Medications and Assess Your Risk

  • Step 2: Keep Active and Eat Healthy

  • Step 3: Watch Your Step and Wear The Right Clothing

  • Step 4: Keep Your Home Safe and Speak Up About Dizziness

Don’t forget to tell your friends, family, coworkers, and health care providers about Finding Balance – we’ve got something for everyone!

So far this month, we discussed how to prevent falls by checking your medications and assessing your risk, keeping active and eating healthy foods, and watching your step and wearing the right shoes. Our final step to falls prevention is to keep your home safe and speak up about dizziness.

Because we spend so much time there, the home is a likely location for a fall – but it doesn’t have to be! It’s a myth that all home safety improvements require lots of time, money, and expertise. In fact, most household hazards can be minimized or eliminated with very little effort. Here are just a few:

  • Lighting: Use night lights and motion detectors inside and outside and keep a light beside your bed with an easy-to-reach switch

  • Tripping hazards: Keep your house free of clutter by throwing out unused items and remove scatter rugs or tape down the edges

  • Bathroom: Use non-slip mats inside and outside bathtubs and showers and have the toilet paper within reach

  • Outside: Watch for uneven surfaces or rocks and use ice grippers on your boots to help you balance

Now that your home is safe, make sure you aren’t a hazard to yourself. Older adults sometimes experience dizziness as a result of their medications, changes in blood pressure, dehydration, and medical conditions. Dizziness makes it easier to fall, so if you have been feeling dizzy tell your health care provider right away.

What You Can Do – Seniors

  • Make the small changes above to your home to keep it safe. For more ideas, check out our new resource.

  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water each day to prevent dizziness due to dehydration.

  • Ask your health care provider for a referral to the CCAC or another agency for a home safety assessment if you are feeling unsafe in your home.

What You Can Do – Families and Friends

  • Assist your loved ones in making changes to improve the safety of their home – install handrails or grab bars, shovel the driveway, and replace burnt out light bulbs.

  • Encourage your loved ones to tell their doctor about any dizziness they experience.

  • Keep your home safe for when your loved ones visit by making the small changes above.

What You Can Do – Professionals

  • Ask your clients if they have been feeling dizzy lately.

  • Refer your clients to CCAC or another agency for a home safety assessment if appropriate.

  • Review your clients’ medications regularly and take their blood pressure while they are lying down and standing up if they complain of dizziness when getting up.

 

Sandy has a doctor’s appointment at 10:00 am, but it’s already past 9:30 and it’s raining outside. If Sandy is late, the doctor will give away the appointment and it will be at least another week before Sandy can get another appointment. To get there on time, Sandy rushes down the stairs, throws on an old pair of shoes without tying the laces, and runs to the car through the rain. After the 25-minute drive, Sandy parks the car at the doctor’s office and jumps out. The parking lot is covered with potholes and curbs, but Sandy has just 2 minutes to get to the doctor’s office on the third floor. Expecting the elevator will take too long, Sandy goes up the stairs two at a time.

Does this scenario sound familiar? Everyone has those days where the clock moves faster than the feet, but Sandy is now at a greater risk for a fall. To stay safe and reduce the risk of falling, older adults need to be careful and wear the right shoes. Even though we can largely control our activity levels and eating habits, and how often we review our medications, we can’t always control the weather or the environment around us.

Sandy could have been safer – and be less likely to fall – by:

  • Walking down the stairs at home and to the car, then slowly climbing the stairs – one step at a time – at the doctor’s office;

  • Paying attention to and avoiding the potholes;

  • Stepping carefully around and over the curbs; and

  • Wearing shoes with good grip and support and tying the laces.

Shoes should have a wide, rounded heel with a sole that provides grip without sticking to the carpet. Foot care is important, too! When our feet are sore and swollen, have open sores or corns, or aren’t well taken care of, the way we walk can change. Take care of your feet and toenails by washing them in warm water, trimming nails straight across and not too short, and placing swollen feet on a stool when sitting.

Fall prevention requires attention from the bottoms of our feet to the tops of our heads and all around us!

What You Can Do – Seniors

  • Buy well-fitting, supportive shoes. Check out our new resource for selecting the right shoe!

  • Take your time and pay attention – it’s better to be a few minutes late than to have a fall!

  • Stick to safer public places: well-lit walkways, shoveled sidewalks, and stairs with handrails.

What You Can Do – Families and Friends

  • Remind your loved ones to slow down and watch their step.

  • Be patient. Be a good role model by allowing your loved ones to move safely – even if it takes a little longer.

  • Point out and report obstacles and potentially dangerous situations, like potholes and broken handrails.

What You Can Do – Professionals

  • Be flexible with appointment times. Give older adults a few extra minutes to arrive so that they don’t feel like they have to rush.

  • Assess the risk: ask your clients about the quality of their shoes, whether they feel dizzy or off-balance, and the last time they had their eyes checked.

  • Maintain a safe and age-friendly environment. Make sure hallways are well-lit and dry, install handrails on stairs, and provide chairs or benches where clients can sit if they need to rest.

Being physically active and eating well are easy ways to reduce the risk of falling. People who exercise regularly and eat healthy foods are stronger, have better balance, and sleep better. They are also less likely to fall. It’s never too late to start living healthy!

Adults over age 65 should engage in moderate- to vigorous-intensity endurance activities for 150 minutes each week. That may seem like a lot, but you can break this time up into spurts of 10 minutes or more to make it easier to fit in! Moderate-intensity activities make you breathe harder and include brisk walking and bicycling. Vigorous-intensity activities make you feel “out of breath” and include cross-country skiing and swimming. Don’t forget about strengthening (e.g., weight lifting and Exercises At The Kitchen Sink) and flexibility (e.g., yoga and Tai Chi) exercises! These need to be done 2 days per week.

When we eat healthy foods, we have healthier bodies and minds. Eating nutritious food and getting the right amounts of each food group is easier than you think! Canada’s Food Guide has special guidelines for adults over 50 years old which include taking a Vitamin D supplement to maintain healthy bones. You can check your eating habits with the Eat Right Ontario Nutri-eSCREEN.

Here’s how many servings Canada's Food Guide recommends:

Food Group

Serving Size

Men

Women

Vegetables and Fruit

125 mL of 100% juice, 250 mL of raw leafy vegetables, or 1 piece of fruit

7

7

Grain Products

1 slice of bread, 125 mL of cooked pasta, rice or couscous, or 30 g of cold cereal

7

6

Milk and Alternatives

250 mL of milk or fortified soy beverage, 175 g of yogurt, or 50 g of cheese

3

3

Meat and Alternatives

75 g of cooked fish, poultry or lean meat, 2 eggs, 175 mL of cooked beans, or 30 mL of peanut butter

3

2

 

What You Can Do – Seniors

  • Follow the physical activity and food guide suggestions above. Consult your health care provider before starting a new exercise routine or Vitamin D supplement.

  • Ask someone to be active with you – join a gym, take dancing lessons, or go for a walk! Here's a list of exercise and falls prevention programs in the South West region: http://www.southwesthealthline.ca/listServices.aspx?id=10986.

  • Improve your cooking and food skills with these tips and recipes from Eat Right Ontario. Call 1-877-510-510-2 to speak to a registered dietitian for free!

What You Can Do – Families and Friends

  • Be active and eat healthy – being a good role model and workout buddy is important!

  • Prepare healthy meals when you host your loved ones. Find yummy and easy recipes here.

  • Encourage your loved ones to be active by planning activities where you can get moving together.

What You Can Do – Professionals

  • Ask your clients about their nutrition and activity habits and provide them with copies of the Physical Activity Guidelines and Canada's Food Guide.

  • Prescribe a regular exercise routine and refer clients to physiotherapists or occupational therapists as needed.

  • Consult with the registered dietitians in your area about seniors’ nutritional needs and include them in your health care team.

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Accessibility Statement

We have attempted to make the pages on this Web site accessible for all visitors.  If you have any difficulty viewing any page with adaptive technology, please contact Amber Schieck :

Email: a.schieck@publichealthgreybruce.on.ca

Phone: 1-800-263-3456 ext. 1270

Medical Disclaimer

The information contained on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition, or before beginning any exercise program.

CONTACTS

For more information about how to prevent falls please contact:

Community Care Access Centre

310-CCAC (2222)

www.healthcareathome.ca

 

To learn about falls prevention programs in your community please contact:

The Healthline

www.thehealthline.ca

211 Ontario

Dial 2-1-1

www.211ontario.ca

 

Telehealth: 1-866-797-0000

For emergencies always dial 9-1-1

Copyright © 2013 All Rights Reserved.