Posts Tagged "falls"

Avoiding Danger @ Home

Posted by on May 15, 2021 in Safety Concerns |

Safety, including safety in and around our homes, becomes more top-of-mind as we age. Why be concerned? As we grow older, we gradually lose some of our physical strength and mobility. Reflexes may slow, affecting the speed with which we can react to dangerous situations. While some of our cognitive functions actually improve as we get older, others start to slow or decline. This may start happening as early as in our mid-50’s – even for otherwise healthy people! Our home is a good place to start when evaluating our overall safety. Performing a home “safety audit” is a first step to identifying potential hazards and reducing risks for the elderly, including injuries, as well as fraud and other crimes.  Home modifications may allow seniors to stay at home longer, but also reduce the risk of falls and other injuries. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers a wealth of information on home renovations, as well as grants available to qualified seniors: Outdoor home improvements can do double duty, increasing your safety at the same time as providing improved security against break-ins and robberies. Consult the CMHC link above and/or your local police service for information for all homeowners, whether at home or while travelling. Uninvited visitors are in a position to prey on a homeowner’s loneliness, politeness and/or desire to help someone. Basic protection includes installing a peephole and chain on doors. Utilities service personnel typically do not need access to your home, especially without advance notice. Don’t let any one in unless you have initiated a service call. Even then, ask for identification. Never allow uninvited visitors in. If they need to make a phone call offer to make it for them. If they have an emergency, offer to call police or an ambulance for them. Door-to-door marketing can involve a homeowner in a high pressure situation. Do not give out personal information; you can request the visitor leave information in your mailbox for you to review. You are NOT obligated to open your door to any uninvited visitor. For more information on fraud prevention, go to A safe place to call home includes feeling safe in our neighborhood. For safety outside the home, basic guidelines apply, whatever our age. Be aware of your surroundings and know that a frail-looking older person can appear an easier target for purse-snatching or mugging. Choose well-travelled, well-lit areas and shopping or take outings with companions to reduce safety risks. Keep money and ID cards well protected (e.g., in an inside jacket pocket rather than in a dangling purse). Change your banking and shopping routines from time to time.  When out and about, know when vanity may be affecting your safety. In addition to “sensible shoe” choices, you can use mobility aids such as a well-fitted cane or walker to help you avoid serious injury. For additional reading, consult these recent ElderWise articles: Tips for Staying At Home…Safely Beware of “Helping’ Strangers – Especially Visitors in Pairs: A true story from an ElderWise subscriber Choosing – and using – Walking Canes and Walkers (2 separate articles)   © ElderWise Inc. 2012 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc. We provide clear, concise and practical direction to Canadians with aging parents. Visit us at and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter.  ...

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Fall Prevention for Seniors

Posted by on Mar 1, 2021 in Health Emergencies |

During the winter “slippery season”, it’s good to be aware of the leading cause of fatal injury among Canadian seniors – falls. Nearly two-thirds of injuries for which those over age 65 are hospitalized, and 40 percent of admissions to nursing homes originate with falls. While slippery conditions outside do pose risks, most falls occur in the home - particularly on stairways and in bathrooms. Fall prevention tips are available from your local health authority. Many communities also offer fall prevention education as part of their seniors’ programs. Vol.1, No.1; © ElderWise Inc. 2006 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO articles, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc., Canada’s “go to” place for “age-smart” planning.  Visit us at and subscribe to our free e-newsletter.        ...

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Fitness with Exercise Bands

Posted by on Sep 9, 2021 in Staying Active |

Most of us know why exercise should be part of our life: reduced weight, toned muscles, and heart health. But exercise can also help with age-related health concerns including: improved balance and coordination, reduced stress, lowered blood pressure and cholesterol, and even improved mood.  Research shows that resistance exercise can improve functional independence and also reduce the risk of falls. With all those benefits, elderly persons are wise to include an exercise program in their plan for healthy aging. One easy solution is exercise bands. What are they? Originally developed by physical therapists to help patients recovering from injury or surgery, exercise bands are used for resistance training in the same way people use free weights or some exercise machines. The advantage of the bands is less risk of injury and a gentler, yet effective workout. Exercise bands do feel different than other resistance devices, because their tension is continuous throughout the exercise.  However, you can control the amount of tension - and make the exercise easier - by lengthening or shortening the band. Choose a band with the right resistance. Are all bands the same? Long, thin latex bands, which look like ribbons, are suited to more gentle exercises and stretching.  Other bands are made of rubber tubing and have handles at each end.  Choose these for a more intense workout and to help build muscle.  However, the user must be able to grasp the handles. What can I do with exercise bands? Many popular weight exercises - from bicep curls to quad lifts - can be modified for exercise bands. In fact, you can work your whole body. Many videos, DVDs and books are available on the subject.  Check with your favourite bookstore or library. Before starting any exercise program check with your physician. Where can I get exercise bands? You can find bands at sporting goods stores, home health care stores, and most major department stores. Exercise bands provide a portable, affordable, and reasonably safe way for older adults to exercise in the comfort of their own home. “I watched a TV show for seniors on exercise while sitting safely in a chair. I started using the bands and was surprised by how much strength I gained in my arms.” M.F.  Age 85    Vol.4, No. 1 © ElderWise Inc., 2008 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: “Originally published by ElderWise Inc., Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at and subscribe to our...

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Safety on Stairs

Posted by on Sep 9, 2021 in Safety Concerns |

Declining muscle strength and increasing physical limitations mean that using stairs becomes more challenging for seniors. That’s why they are more likely to fall than younger adults. Seniors who fall are more likely to sustain serious injuries, including fractures. Falling may also cause seniors to lose confidence in their abilities, which can lead to social withdrawal.  Up to 15% of all falls by seniors involve stairs. Sustaining a fall also increases the chances of a senior moving into a nursing home. FORTY PER-CENT of care home admissions are fall-related, and an independent senior who experiences a fall is 3 times more likely to move into a care home. Here are some safety tips from the Public Health Agency of Canada. You can use them to have a conversation with your parents about these risks…and ways to prevent falls. Hazards on Stairs:  Lighting, Handrails, and General Conditions Are the stairs well lit, with light switches at the top and bottom?  If not, explore ways to install extra lighting. Is there a handrail?  Is it well secured and at the proper height? Hint: the height should allow the senior to use the handrail comfortably, with the elbow slightly bent. Should you have two handrails - one on each side of the stairs?  Check the condition of floor coverings on stairs. Does your tile or linoleum have  loose edges?  Is your carpet securely fastened?  Consider replacing carpet with rubber stair treading. Can you see the edge of each stair clearly?  If not, consider adding a contrasting color on edges - either with paint or adhesive strips. Change some habits to increase safety on stairs: Wearing glasses - or not? Do you wear your reading glasses when taking the stairs?  Are you still getting used to those new bifocals?  Make sure you can see the stairs clearly, going up and going down. Proper footwear. Are those old slippers comfortable but unsafe?  Also, stocking feet can slip on stairs.  Try out a new pair of comfortable shoes with proper supports and grips. Carrying. Do you carry objects in both hands?  Keep one hand on the rail, and make an extra trip instead. Use a laundry bag rather than a laundry basket. Clutter. Do you often place things on the stairs - to take up on your next trip?  Obstacles on stairs can cause or contribute to a fall.  Some factors that can contribute to a fall on the stairs may be out of anyone’s control and the list of dangers may seem long.  But the risks of using stairs can be offset by the benefits of weight-bearing exercise: maintaining some muscle strength and helping keep bones strong.  So, don’t avoid the stairs. Instead, manage the risks by removing danger factors and employing safe stair practices. Here’s another resource on this topic:   Steps to Safer Stairs:    Vol.3, No.3 © ElderWise Inc. 2007. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc., Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter....

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