Healthy Living in the North

Seniors Falls: A Proactive Approach

Risk of "near falls."

Half of seniors have had “near falls.”

I was pleased to recently get the opportunity to sit and have tea with Lola Dawn Fennell, Manager of the Prince George Council of Seniors (PGCOS) at the Seniors Resource Centre, to chat about a very important topic: seniors’ falls prevention. The Council was formed in 1990 by a group of local seniors who believed in the social benefits of group advocacy. PGCOS is committed to encouraging seniors to becoming more proactive about their own health and wellness and advocates for seniors to consider lifestyle changes before illness or accidents occur.

During our chat, I learned a lot more about the importance of prevention. Lola told me: “From a personal note, I am becoming more and more aware of my feet as I get older – where they are, what they are doing. I can’t take my footing for granted anymore. In the last six years I’ve had a couple of falls with one resulting in a broken arm. I am becoming more aware that falls are a serious issue. Hip fractures are devastating to seniors. Both my parents fell and broke hips when they were in their 80s and they never regained their mobility. I don’t want to fall and break a hip.”

She also emphasized that seniors and their families need to be aware of hazards before a fall happens. Being proactive and changing your actions is key! In the Falls Prevention Workshops PGCOS runs, Lola always asks the group about the number of “near falls” they have had in the last year and the response is always the same: about 50% of the group has had one or more. Also, the older the senior, the more they have had one.

Lola told me, “When you are young, you just walk. The older you get, the more aware you become of your feet. Feet are on my mind lately.”

Lola wants seniors to take the time to consider some facts around falls:

1)      Falls are the leading cause of injuries to seniors – everyone needs to be aware of the seriousness of this.

2)      The majority of falls happen to seniors at home, during normal daily activities. 

3)      50% of residential care admissions are related to falls.

4)      Beware of the hazards:

  • Indoors: rugs, slippery surfaces, pets underfoot.
  • Outdoors: uneven sidewalks, un-shoveled steps and walkways.
  • Our behaviors: being in a hurry and not paying attention, mixing medications with alcohol, not eating well, dehydration.

You can find excellent resources to keep seniors free from slips, trips and broken hips on Northern Health’s Injury Prevention webpage.  

For more information on free Wellness Promotion Workshops, including falls prevention, contact PGCOS at 250-564-5888.

Join us for great prizes and great fun by submitting photos portraying healthy, active living in Northern BC free from falls!  Visit blog.northernhealth.ca for all the challenge details!

Loraina Stephen

About Loraina Stephen

Loraina is a population health dietitian working in a regional lead role for external food policy, which supports initiatives to develop healthy eating, community food security and food policy for the north. Loraina was born and raised in the north, and has a busy lifestyle. Having grown up enjoying food grown from family gardens, hunting, and gathering, and enjoying northern outdoor activities, she draws on those experiences to keep traditions strong for her family, in her work and at play. (Loraina no longer works with Northern Health, we wish her all the best.)

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