Helping seniors’ independence

When seniors fall, the consequences can be serious

Did you know, falls account for 85 per cent of all injuries among seniors in B.C. and are the main reason why older adults lose their independence?

When seniors fall, the consequences can be serious. In fact, falls were the leading cause of injury deaths among B.C. seniors in 2010. Increased fall risk can occur for a variety of reasons, usually from a lack of balance or inability to recover balance due to age-related physical or mental health problems, impaired mobility or vision, a reaction to medication(s), or slip and trip hazards. Falls usually happen at home, and women over 65 years are 2.3 times more likely to be hospitalized for a fall-related injury then men—many of these involve hip fractures. Nearly 1-in-10 hospitalizations among B.C. seniors were due to a fall last year and 40 percent of fall-related hospitalizations involved a hip fracture. Approximately one quarter of older adults who live independently prior to a hip fracture may need to live in a facility for a period of time following a fall-related fracture. A contributing factor is that seniors may become afraid of falling, so they restrict their activities and this can lead to weak muscles, stiff joints and poor balance, resulting in more falls.

The good news is that most falls are predictable and can be prevented by taking simple steps to reduce fall risk. To raise awareness about the importance of reducing falls and related injuries among B.C.’s aging population and to encourage leadership and collaboration across the province, BC supports seniors’ fall prevention by proclaiming the first week in November as Seniors’ Fall Prevention Awareness Week.