November is Fall Prevention Month, and the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) is reminding the public that the risk for falling can increase with age and declining health, but steps can be taken to prevent falls.
Falls are a significant public health issue and are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in Simcoe Muskoka with 19,400 emergency department visits, 2,000 hospitalizations and 100 deaths due to falls in 2020. While falls can happen to anyone, for older adults a fall can be life-altering and result in the loss of independence.
When thinking about falls, safety hazards like scatter rugs, stairs, or ice typically come to mind. The health unit’s Staying Independent Home Safety Checklist can help you find and address the risks in and around the home.
However, safety hazards are only one piece of the puzzle. When someone falls there are other risk factors at play that are different for everyone. Some of these factors cannot be changed, such as one’s age, gender, race, medical condition, and cognition. There are also factors that can be changed, including a person’s physical environment, their health behaviours or choices, access to health, dental and pharma care, as well as access to social and physical activities.
Like a jigsaw puzzle, preventing a fall can be complicated and requires looking at the many different pieces that influence a person’s risk level. To prevent falls it is important to consider how to make improvements to as many changeable risk factors as possible, both in an individual’s work and personal life.
To learn more about fall prevention visit fallpreventionmonth.ca, the health unit’s pages on aging and wellness or contact Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.