I grew up in a Prince George neighborhood with a wonderful blend of multi-generation Canadian families and first generation families from Italy, Yugoslavia, Sweden, Denmark and Greece. They all brought a rich diversity of languages, home decorating flare, meals that could humble any international food festival, and crazy MacGyver-like creativity that they applied to both everyday tasks and complex problems. Often, they didn’t have their families close by. Looking back, I was so fortunate to spend my youth surrounded by these families who worked very hard to put down roots in their new communities and build a sense of belonging with their neighbors. Those families stayed in that neighborhood over the years, and if they did move, they kept in touch with the neighbors that had become dear friends.
A few (okay, many) years have gone by now and those men and women who had such fascinating life stories are aging. These folks have always been so independent – maybe it was always their nature – their fierce independence that was built over time, out of necessity. Whatever the background, they are now in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond in years. They still want to live their life, writing their own story as much as any of us can. Staying connected and living in their community while maintaining their independence in their senior years is critical to their well-being.
This week, our Injury Prevention: Falls Across the Ages awareness campaign is shining light on the issue of seniors’ falls. We are encouraging seniors and anyone who cares about the seniors in their lives to learn about maintaining independence and preventing a fall. There are some body changes that come with aging, but there are also many choices we can make to keep ourselves well, strong and safely on our feet as we go about living and writing our life stories. Some choices are easy to make; others take a bit more commitment. All are proven steps, helping to prevent slips, trips and broken hips.
1. Be active
- Poor balance and weak muscles are not a normal part of aging, but do increase your risk of falling.
- Exercise for strength, balance and coordination. You’ll feel great.
2. Take your time
- Rushing through everyday activities can contribute to falls.
- Slow down, do one thing at a time, look where you are going and be sure you have your balance before you start walking.
3. Make your home safe
- Remove things that you might trip over such as electrical cords, throw rugs, shoes and books.
- Use sturdy handrails, bathroom grab bars, non-slip bath or shower mats and well-fitted shoes.
- Light your way inside and outside your home. Use night-lights at night.
4. Have regular check-ups
- Medication use can increase your chance of falling, so have your doctor or pharmacist review all the medication you take.
- Have your vision and blood pressure checked regularly.
Join this week’s challenge. Send us pictures of you, your family, friends and neighbors staying active, healthy and connected in your community. Show us that you have considered falls prevention!
For more information, links and resources please visit the Preventing Seniors’ Falls webpage.
Get involved and show us how you are staying healthy, active and falls-free.
About Denise Foucher
Denise is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team and is passionate about working towards health and wellness for everyone in Northern B.C. When not at work, Denise can be found out at the lake, walking her dog, planning her next travel adventure, or snuggled in a cozy chair with a good book.