Healthy Living in the North

Aging gracefully: Keep active and on your feet!

Did you know that November 2-8 is Fall Prevention Week? There’s a great new resource available to prevent falls in B.C. called Finding Balance. They focus on four important ways to prevent falls:

  1. Keep your body active.
  2. Have your eyes checked by an optometrist once a year.
  3. Have your doctor or pharmacist review your medications.
  4. Make your home safer.

We wanted to spend some time looking at their first recommendation!

Man on bicycle

Staying active – like biking to work or to the grocery store – will help you maintain your independence and avoid slips and falls.

Bodies are made to move!

Every older adult wants to live an active and independent life. Regular physical activity improves balance, increases strength and prevents falls. While we all age, get a little wrinkly, and have hair that turns grey (for most of us, anyways), poor balance, weak muscles and falls are not a normal part of aging. As we age, let’s follow the advice of poet Dylan Thomas and “not go gentle into that good night.”

So, where to start?

Aim for 150 minutes of exercise per week. That’s just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week!

Take charge of your body and be active to stay strong and maintain your mobility long into the golden years. Including movement in your day-to-day activities and exercising for strength, balance and coordination improves your overall health and quality of life: maintain your independence, stay active in your community, and avoid slips, trips and broken hips!

It’s never too late to get active and involved!

Start where you are today and build more activity into your daily routine bit-by-bit, working your way up to 150 minutes per week.

Being active can be fun! Try all kinds of activities like strength and balance exercises, dancing, lifting light weights, tai chi and yoga! Exercise can also include simple things like going for a walk, raking leaves, shovelling snow, bringing in firewood, or climbing the stairs. Be creative and enjoy what you choose to do!

Always make sure that you keep activity within your own personal limits and take measures to avoid injury. It is always a good idea to consult your health care provider before starting any new exercise program or increasing your level of physical activity significantly.


This post was co-authored by Holly Christian and originally published in the November issue of Healthier You magazine.

 

Shellie O'Brien

About Shellie O'Brien

Shellie is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team with a passion for health and wellness. She enjoys the outdoors, animals, recreational dogsledding, reading, and healthy living. When not at work, she can be found on her rural property with her family of happy, healthy huskies.

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Back to school safety!

Young girl with backpack.

Northern Health staff member Bonnie’s daughter is very excited for her first day of school – are you and your kids ready to go back to school safely?

It’s that time of year when the hustle and bustle starts as we get our children off to school and back into routines! The moment the school doors open, the traffic increases, more pedestrians and cyclists hit the roads, children are excited, parents are adjusting to the new routine, and life just seems to quicken. With this increase in pace it is important to slow down and stay safe!

Here are some things to consider:

Traffic Safety

Does your child …

  • Cross at crosswalks or corners?
  • Look before crossing the street?
  • Know and follow traffic signals and rules?
  • Walk to and from school with a responsible person (until they are at least 8 years old)?
  • Make eye contact with the driver before crossing in front of a stopped car?
  • Know to stop and check for cars before crossing driveways, alleys and areas without curbs?
Young girl on school bus.

Does your child arrive at the bus stop early and stand back from the road while waiting? Shellie offers some great questions to ask yourself and your children as they get ready to go back to school!

Bus Safety

Does your child …

  • Arrive at the bus stop early and stand back from the road while waiting?
  • Make eye contact with the bus driver, take three giant steps ahead of the bus, and check for cars in all directions before crossing in front of the bus?
  • Wear bright or reflective clothing if they are walking to and from the bus in the dark?
  • Know what to do if they miss the bus (e.g., go back home, report to a teacher, etc. – but never accept a ride from a stranger)?

Car Safety

Does your child always …

  • Sit in a booster seat appropriate for their height and age?
  • Sit in the back seat until they are 12 years old?
  • Wear their seat belt low across their hips, not their stomach?
  • Wear a shoulder belt (when available) in the middle of their chest, not touching their neck?

Personal Safety

Does your child know …

  • Their full name, address and phone number in case of emergency?
  • The name and number of an emergency contact?
  • The numbers for fire, police and ambulance, or 911?
  • Not to accept rides or gifts from strangers?
  • To tell an adult if they or someone else was approached by a stranger?
  • That it is safer to play or walk with other children than to play or walk alone?
Child wearing backpack at school.

With all of the back-to-school excitement for students, teachers, and parents, it’s important to slow down and stay safe!

Bike Safety

Does your child …

  • Wear a helmet correctly every time they ride their bike?
  • Ride their bike in safe areas like biking trails or roads where the speed limit is lower and traffic is less busy?
  • Know how to check their brakes, make sure the seat is secured at the right height, and that the tires have enough air?

Bullying

Does your child know …

  • About bullying, both physical (hitting, kicking, shoving, tripping) and verbal (mean words, threats, gossiping, name-calling, leaving someone out)?
  • Not to fight back but to be assertive, look the bully in the eye, and tell him or her “I don’t like that, stop doing that,” and to walk away?
  • To tell a parent or adult if they or someone else is being bullied?

You are probably not expecting your child to be injured today. In the words of preventable.ca, “Have a word with yourself.”

Injuries are predictable and preventable. When your child leaves for school, the number one priority is to make sure they get home safe!


A version of this article was originally published in the August 2015 issue of A Healthier You magazine.

 

Shellie O'Brien

About Shellie O'Brien

Shellie is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team with a passion for health and wellness. She enjoys the outdoors, animals, recreational dogsledding, reading, and healthy living. When not at work, she can be found on her rural property with her family of happy, healthy huskies.

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Heads up! Prevention and management of concussions

Man wearing a helmet and safety vest while holding a bicycle.

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month, which is a great time to learn more about concussions. Wearing protective gear, including a helmet, is one of the most important things you can do to prevent concussions.

Running, jumping, climbing, tumbling and participating in sports are excellent ways for children and youth to exercise, meet new friends and learn life lessons. But along with the benefits of physical activity, there are associated risks, like the risk for concussions.

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month, which is a great chance to learn more about concussions.

Concussions are caused by a direct blow to the head or other body part resulting in a rotational movement of the brain within the skull.

How can you prevent concussions?

  • Wear protective gear, including a helmet, for sports and recreation.
  • Buckle your seatbelt.
  • Make your home safe. Keep your home well-lit and your floors free of clutter. To reduce the risk of injury to children, use edge and corner guards on furniture, block off stairways and install window guards.
  • Wear appropriate shoes.
  • Ensure a safe playground. Choose a well-maintained playground for your child with a ground surface made of shock-absorbing material like mulch or sand.

Evidence suggests that children and youth are at the greatest risk of having a concussion. They also take longer to recover. Concussions can permanently change the way a child or youth talks, walks, learns, works and interacts with others.

So how do we encourage our children to stay active, grow, develop and play while minimizing these risks?

It’s important for parents, coaches, educators and players to understand how to prevent, recognize and manage concussions. Having the resources and tools to do so is the first step in minimizing the risk to our children.

The British Columbia Injury Research and Prevention Unit has developed a free online training tool on the recognition, management and prevention of concussions. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) supports parents, coaches, players and educators to take the necessary steps to prevent long-term consequences of concussions and to understand the effects and treatment should such an injury occur.

Visit cattonline.com for up to date concussion education training and to complete a free course! A toolkit designed specifically for educators is coming soon!

Shellie O'Brien

About Shellie O'Brien

Shellie is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team with a passion for health and wellness. She enjoys the outdoors, animals, recreational dogsledding, reading, and healthy living. When not at work, she can be found on her rural property with her family of happy, healthy huskies.

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Be “reel” safe! Here fishy, fishy, fishy!

Boy holding two large fish

Make great family memories this weekend with a safe and fun trip to the lake!

Winter feels like a distant memory! Lakes are open, bulbs are blooming, and everything looks so green! For those who love the outdoors, there are an abundance of aquatic activities available to enjoy, from boating to swimming and kayaking to fishing!

Northern British Columbia, with its rugged landscape and pristine wilderness, provides exceptional fishing ground! There are thousands of lakes, streams and tidal waters to fish – whether for fun or for fresh food!

With all the excitement of warmer temperatures and the thrill that comes with a weekend of outdoor fun, it is important to remember to stay safe so that you can get back out there and continue to enjoy the beautiful weather, lakes and streams.

Did you know?

  • Drownings are most likely to occur in natural bodies of water such as rivers and lakes.
  • The majority of these drownings occur on weekends from May to August. 
  • The highest proportion of incidents occur during recreational activity, most commonly swimming, fishing or boating.
  • In B.C., water-related fatality rates are highest among men and young adults.
  • 90% of boating drownings can be prevented by wearing a life-jacket or personal flotation device (PFD).
Young girl fishing off of a boat

Don’t forget to pack your life-jackets and remember to “have a word with yourself” before heading to the lake. Following a few safety tips can keep you and your family smiling and safe!

Getting out to the lake makes for great summer memories! Make sure to have a safe and fun time on and near the water by following these safety tips:

  • Boat and swim sober.
  • Ensure everyone wears a life-jacket or PFD.
  • Ensure all children under age six wear life-jackets when in, on, or around water.
  • Learn how to swim and take a first aid and CPR course.

For all you fishermen, women, and children out there, and for everyone enjoying your time on or near the water, have a safe and fun time! In the words of preventable.ca, remember to “have a word with yourself” and don’t forget to pack your life-jackets.


This article was originally published in the May 2015 issue of Northern Health’s A Healthier You magazine.

 

Shellie O'Brien

About Shellie O'Brien

Shellie is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team with a passion for health and wellness. She enjoys the outdoors, animals, recreational dogsledding, reading, and healthy living. When not at work, she can be found on her rural property with her family of happy, healthy huskies.

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Safe Kids Week wrap-up: Safety tips for cyclists

The 2v1 rule ensures a proper and safe fit for helmets. Your helmet should rest a 2 finger distance above your eyebrows, the strap should make a V under your ears, and you should be able to fit only one finger between the strap and your chin.

The 2v1 rule ensures a proper and safe fit for helmets. Your helmet should rest a 2 finger distance above your eyebrows, the strap should make a V under your ears, and you should be able to fit only one finger between the strap and your chin.

Cycling can be a fun and active way to spend time with your kids. It’s even more fun when you’re doing so safely. Parachute encourages parents and caregivers to be role models for cycling safety by follow these important yet simple steps:

  • Protect Your Head, Wear a Helmet: A properly fitted and correctly worn bike helmet can make a dramatic difference, cutting the risk of serious head injury by up to 80%. Use the 2v1 rule for helmet fitting.
  • Check Your Ride: Ensure bikes are adjusted to the recommended height for the rider, tires are inflated and brakes are working properly.
  • Be Prepared: Get trained in bicycle safety and the rules of the road, use appropriate hand signals and obey all traffic signs.
  • Pick Family-Friendly Routes: Use designated areas for riding when available.
  • Ride in Well-Lit Areas: Be sure your bike has reflectors and lights if planning to ride in low-lit areas.
  • Pick the Right Side of the Road: Tell your kids to ride on the right side of the road, the same direction that traffic is going, and to stay as far right as possible.
  • Use Your Bell: Ensure your bike is equipped with a bell to announce when passing. If not, use your voice!
Shellie O'Brien

About Shellie O'Brien

Shellie is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team with a passion for health and wellness. She enjoys the outdoors, animals, recreational dogsledding, reading, and healthy living. When not at work, she can be found on her rural property with her family of happy, healthy huskies.

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Thinking about kids’ safety

Graphic that reads: helmets reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by up to 80%

Each year in Canada, preventable injuries cause 13,000 deaths, 60,000 disabilities and 3 million emergency room visits. Safe Kids Week is a great chance to ask ourselves what we can do to lower those numbers and prevent tragic injuries and death.

“Let’s be careful out there.” This mantra, going back to the 1980s police drama Hill Street Blues, resonates to this day. Consider that preventable injuries kill more Canadian children than any single disease and kill more youth than all other causes combined. Each year in Canada, preventable injuries cause 13,000 deaths, 60,000 disabilities and 3 million emergency room visits.

These figures come from Parachute, a national non-profit organization that describes itself as dedicated to preventing injury and saving lives through education and advocacy. It is also behind Safe Kids Week, which kicks off today and runs from May 4-10. This annual event strives to make us more aware of the frequency and severity of preventable childhood injuries. This year’s theme focuses on cycling and road safety.

Staying safe is an important message to communicate with children. What better way than to start with parents who are role models who influence the behaviours of their children. After all, why wear a helmet on the bike when mom doesn’t? Why stop at intersections if dad seems to just roll through?

There are a number of messages and recommendations aligned with the message of Safe Kids Week, starting with protecting your head. Wear a helmet! It should fit properly and be worn as designed because that protection cuts the risk of serious head injury by up to 80%!

Bikes should fit the kid. Make sure that your child’s bike is the right size for them, that the tires are properly inflated and the brakes work as intended. This is a great way to involve children in maintenance and awareness and it’s fun for them, too. It also helps if your child knows about the rules of the road and understands bicycle safety. Even a four-year-old can learn to stop and look before crossing a road and know to gear up before riding (even if they’re too young to be crossing the road alone).

Parent with a helmet adjusting their child's helmet. Text reads: Be a good "roll" model.

How can you be a good role model for kids? Do you wear a helmet? Obey the rules of the road?

Part of knowing the rules of the road includes knowing to ride on the right side, in the same direction as traffic, but also to stay as far right as possible. And kids should have a bell to announce their presence, especially when they are passing.

Though not a focus of the Parachute Safe Kids Week this year, we also include trampolines for special attention. A recent study by the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit of children admitted to BC Children’s Hospital found trampoline-related injuries occurred at a rate of 14.1 per 1,000 cases treated at BC Children’s Hospital emergency department (no other hospital was tracked).

Of the injuries identified as trampoline-related, fractures were the most common, followed by bruises and abrasions and sprains. The most likely points of injury were the ankle, elbow and head.

Sure, trampolines can be dangerous, but we realize they are also a lot of fun. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid injury. Safety increases with smart use: limit trampolines to one person at a time; don’t jump onto or off of the trampoline; avoid flips and somersaults which can lead to over-extension of the cervical spine. Active adult supervision is also important.

Summer is a great time to be a kid and helping them to be safe can mean that it will all be fun and games!

Shellie O'Brien

About Shellie O'Brien

Shellie is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team with a passion for health and wellness. She enjoys the outdoors, animals, recreational dogsledding, reading, and healthy living. When not at work, she can be found on her rural property with her family of happy, healthy huskies.

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Spring into activity – injury-free!

Young boy wearing a life-jacket and fishing off of dock.

Make sure that your favourite spring and summer activities are enjoyed safely so that you can have fun all season long!

Spring is in the air! Lakes are thawing, bulbs are blooming, and leaves are sprouting! After a long but mild winter, it’s a perfect time to get outside and enjoy your favourite spring activity!

While physical activity is an important part of our health, as well as our growth and development, we recognize that there are risks involved – as there are in all parts of life. While not all risks can be eliminated, most can be managed.

Everybody has thoughts and ideas about risk and protective factors and what they believe is the right balance to keep their activity both fun and safe. For example, when you leave the house to go for a walk and cross the road, you are taking a risk. But, if you look both ways, make eye contact with drivers, and wear bright clothing, you minimize that risk while still enjoying your walk!

What are your thoughts around risk taking? Do you manage risks in your daily activities in a way that keeps those activities fun while including the appropriate safety measures? What precautions do you take to ensure you can get back to the same activity with the same ability again and again? Remember to aim for a healthy balance, avoid the bubble wrap and when you take risks, take smart ones!

Did you know that we sustain more injuries during the spring and summer months? Why might that be?

  • There are more vulnerable road users out and about such as bicyclists and motorcyclists, dog walkers, runners, and skateboarders.
  • Off-road vehicle use increases with warmer weather. In northern B.C., we actually have the highest rates of ATV injuries in the province.
  • There is more access to open water for swimming, fishing, and boating – all of which come with a drowning risk.
  • There is an increase in outdoor sports where we see more musculoskeletal injuries and concussion.
Young boy wearing helmet on BMX bike.

Shellie’s tips for safe spring and summer activities are simple but effective: look first, wear the gear, get trained, buckle up, and drive sober. Whether you’re on a boat, a bike, a car, a dock, a street, a hill, or enjoying any other Northern activity, these tips will help you stay active and injury-free!

Here are some simple but effective tips to stay fit and injury-free so you can enjoy the activities you love all spring and summer long – and for many seasons to come!

  • Look first: Stop, think and check out the situation before you act. Watch for vulnerable road users. Stop, think, and assess before crossing the street, before skiing down a hill, before climbing a ladder. Understand the risks of an activity and make a plan to manage them.
  • Wear the gear: When there is protective gear for an activity, wear it. It will save a life. Your seatbelt, your helmet, your life-jacket – wear the gear!
  • Get trained: Learn how to assess the risks of an activity, decide which ones are worth taking, and develop skills to manage those risks. ATV safety training, swimming lessons and driver education are all examples of getting trained.
  • Buckle up: Have the rule that everyone buckles up properly every time, no matter how short the trip. Remember to buckle up life-jackets and helmets, too!
  • Drive sober: Be fully in control of your mind and body when behind the wheel of any kind of vehicle, whether car, ATV, boat or bicycle. Operate these vehicles without the impairment of alcohol, drugs, fatigue or distractions of any kind.
Shellie O'Brien

About Shellie O'Brien

Shellie is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team with a passion for health and wellness. She enjoys the outdoors, animals, recreational dogsledding, reading, and healthy living. When not at work, she can be found on her rural property with her family of happy, healthy huskies.

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From snowboard to toboggan – have fun, protect your noggin!

Two snowboarders with helmets and goggles

From spring skiing to slippery sidewalks, just because the snow is melting and the weather is warming doesn’t mean we should stop thinking about slips, falls, and concussion risks!

From snowboarding to skating, biathlon to snowmobiling, cross-country skiing to snowshoeing, or curling to tobogganing – you name the winter sport and we got it! Being active and participating in sports and outdoor activities during winter is a fantastic way to stay healthy and happy. Whether you are a weekend enthusiast or you’ve been inspired by the Canada Winter Games athletes to try out a new sport, learn how to keep winter play fun, safe and injury-free.

Concussions have often been dismissed as “getting your bell rung,” a time to just shake it off and get back at it! However, in reality, a concussion is a brain injury that can cause a number of symptoms affecting the way you think or act. A repeat concussion that occurs while your brain is still healing from a previous concussion can cause long-term problems that may change your life forever.

How a concussion is handled in the minutes, hours and days following the injury can significantly influence the extent of damage and recovery time. Protect yourself and your loved ones:

Learn how to recognize a concussion

  • Any force that causes the brain to move around in the skull can cause a concussion.
  • Signs of a concussion may not appear immediately.
  • Most concussions do not include a loss of consciousness.
  • When in doubt, sit out! Take the time your brain needs to heal.

Know what to do if you suspect a concussion

  • Assess the individual for any visible cues, signs or symptoms like imbalance, memory loss, and changes in the way they appear to be thinking, feeling or acting.
  • Get medical help – any possible concussion should be evaluated by a medical professional.

Know how to manage a concussion

  • Rest is the best way to recover from a concussion – both physical and mental.
  • Follow the guidelines for Return to Learn and Return to Play to help achieve full recovery (available at cattonline.com).

Spread the word!

  • Injuries are preventable. Tell others to help build awareness and understanding about preventing and managing concussion where you live, work, learn and play. Together we can make northern B.C. injury-free.

Visit cattonline.com for up-to-date and free concussion information, training and resources for parents, players, coaches, medical professionals and educators.


This article was first published in A Healthier You, a joint publication of Northern Health and the Prince George Citizen.

Shellie O'Brien

About Shellie O'Brien

Shellie is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team with a passion for health and wellness. She enjoys the outdoors, animals, recreational dogsledding, reading, and healthy living. When not at work, she can be found on her rural property with her family of happy, healthy huskies.

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Heads up! Concussions matter!

Parent and child wearing helmets on a ski hill.

Concussions matter! From February 24 – March 1, take the free online training at CATTonline.com to better understand concussion prevention and management and for your chance to win a $50 gift card.

Sidney Crosby, Natasha Richardson, the National Football League, Hockey Canada. They all conjure up stories of individual struggles and organizational responses to concussions. With the Canada Winter Games entering their second week in Prince George and northern B.C., we wanted to make the most of the light shining on sports and athletes to talk about concussion awareness and education for all, not just extreme sport athletes.

The Canada Winter Games are here for two weeks, but concussions happen in our communities every day! The question is: how big of an issue are concussions in the north? Injury stats on concussion are rather difficult to gather as historically, concussions have been a very under-reported injury or they’ve been recorded under a number of different categories. What we do know is that:

  • In 2010, $2.4 million was spent on hospitalizations for concussion in B.C.
  • Northern Health has the highest rate of hospitalization for brain injury, other head injury, and concussions of all the health regions in B.C.
  • 1 in 5 youth in northern B.C. reported experiencing a concussion in the past year; many also report not seeking medical help to diagnose, treat and manage their concussion to a full recovery.
  • Up to 60% of all concussion visits were males.
  • 40% of concussion cases seen in emergency departments are for children ages 0-19, with the highest rate for boys 10-14 years old. Most of these cases came from a sport-related injury.

In response to this injury burden, and with the opportunity to create a health legacy from the Canada Winter Games, we’ve created Concussions matter! This concussion awareness, management and prevention campaign was designed to reach Northern Health staff and communities across the north as a health legacy to Canada Winter Games. The campaign has received generous support from the Concussion Awareness Training Tool and preventable.ca, allowing us to use and co-brand some great tools to promote and distribute across the region.

From February 24th to March 1st, we’ll be sharing a lot of concussion information and links to the CATT online training course here, on Facebook, and on Twitter. Take the free online CATT training and comment “I completed the CATT” on the Northern Health Facebook page and you can be entered to win a $50 gift card! Please help us spread the word about concussion awareness and the tools to support the management and prevention!

Concussions matter! Learn more about concussion management and prevention at CATTonline.com.


Contest rules:

  1. Only residents living in the Northern Health region can qualify to win (but we encourage everyone to take the free CATT online training course!). Not sure if you are in our region? View the map.
  2. The contesting and prizing is administered by Northern Health. Facebook is in no way responsible for contesting or prizing.
  3. Participants are entered by taking the free online CATT course and commenting “I completed the CATT” below the Facebook post relating to the contest on the Northern Health Facebook Page.
  4. No maximum entries per person. A maximum of one entry is earned by completing the CATT and commenting appropriately. Extra entries can be earned by tagging a friend.
  5. Comments deemed abusive, offensive or derogatory will be automatically disqualified.
  6. One prize will be given away. A gift card valued at $50 will be awarded.
  7. Winner will be contacted via email or social media platform.
  8. Gift card will be awarded by random draw.
  9. Gift card to be used to encourage healthy living. To ensure it is, Regional Injury Prevention Coordinators will work with the winners to determine what the gift card will be for.
  10. Northern Health reserves final approval of winning entry and gift card.
  11. Contestants under the age of 18 must have parent or guardian permission to enter.
  12. Announced prize winner is final.
  13. Entering the contest does not guarantee that you will win a prize.
  14. Northern Health employees are eligible to enter the contest and win, but will not be granted preferential treatment.
  15. Northern Health has 60 days from the time the contest closes (March 1, 2015, 11:59PM PST) to issue prize.
Shellie O'Brien

About Shellie O'Brien

Shellie is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team with a passion for health and wellness. She enjoys the outdoors, animals, recreational dogsledding, reading, and healthy living. When not at work, she can be found on her rural property with her family of happy, healthy huskies.

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Preventing falls: Seniors’ Fall Prevention Awareness Week

City street in the winter

With winter slipperiness comes an increased risk of falling. Take steps to prevent falls this winter!

It’s that time of year again! Winter is creeping its way around the corner. As I walked outside this morning, I could see my breath in the cool, crisp air as I exhaled. The grass was covered in sparkly frost that crinkled and crunched as I did my morning chores. I love the fresh fall and winter mornings when there is no wind and everything is glistening. It is really quite pretty – almost surreal.

Winter is my favorite time of year, so the first few cool fall mornings always make the butterflies come alive in my stomach as I anticipate the fluffy white stuff! As I walk about carefully scraping my truck windows, buckling up, and driving to work, however, I am quickly reminded that with all the beauty in this winter wonderland, things become very slippery! Roads, walkways, stairs, and other surfaces become a little slicker and we have to be just a little more careful.

With winter slipperiness comes an increased risk of falling. On a few occasions, I’ve definitely found myself on the ground, looking up at the clouds before I even had a chance to catch myself! Does anyone else find it challenging to stay safely on your feet?

This task becomes even harder as we age. One in three people aged 65 years and older fall every year, which can lead to an older adult getting hurt so badly that they lose their ability to live independently. So, in the spirit of Seniors’ Fall Prevention Awareness Week (November 3-9, 2014), take the time to think about how you can prevent falls for yourself and those you love with these tips:

  • Be physically active in order to strengthen muscles. Healthy Families BC has some great examples of how to stay active as you age.
  • Get your eyes checked to detect vision problems.
  • Make a list of all of your medications and supplements and ask your pharmacist to review them, looking for combinations that cause dizziness or impaired judgement.
  • Don’t wear loose-fitting slippers or shoes with worn-out tread since bad footwear can lead to slips, trips, and falls.
  • Don’t let the fear of falling stop you from being active. If you’ve fallen before, you may be afraid of falling again. But physical activity helps keep you strong, which can prevent future falls and fractures.
  • Drink enough water. Dehydration puts you at higher risk for falling.
  • Remove the clutter. Things on the floor can cause you to trip or stumble.
  • Install grab bars in your bathroom to help with getting in and out of the tub. Grab bars can look stylish, too – get some in white or chrome.
  • Get some new lighting. Dark corners can limit visibility and lead to a fall. As a bonus, most new lighting fixtures use very little electricity.
  • Learn more about fall-proofing your home from HealthLinkBC.

Finally, if you are an older adult or have an aging loved one, check out the following resources from SeniorsBC:

Shellie O'Brien

About Shellie O'Brien

Shellie is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team with a passion for health and wellness. She enjoys the outdoors, animals, recreational dogsledding, reading, and healthy living. When not at work, she can be found on her rural property with her family of happy, healthy huskies.

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