Increasing number of seniors' falls

October 6, 2009

The fact is that falls cause more than 90% of hip fractures among seniors – and between 15 – 20% of those patients will die due to complications. Also, 40% of all nursing home admissions are the result of falls. These statistics alone are extremely significant, and justification for the Finding Balance campaign.

This year’s campaign, which will be launched on November 3rd, will again be targeted primarily at well seniors, in an attempt to build awareness of easy and simple steps to prevent falls in every-day activities.

We are facing an increasing dilemma in Alberta. Our hospital beds are being increasingly occupied by seniors, there for a wide variety of causes. As our population demographics continue to show an increase in the number of seniors, this problem is likely to grow. Indeed, in the decade from 1997 – 2006, there was a 35 per cent increase in the number of seniors admitted to hospital following a fall.

Clearly there is an urgent need to reduce the continuing escalation of falls among our seniors, which is the objective of the Finding Balance seniors’ falls prevention campaign, entering its second year at the beginning of November.

Driven by the Alberta Centre for Injury Control & Research, together with the Alberta Medical Association, the program has the backing and support of most of the province’s health care professions, which has each witnessed the dramatic rise in seniors’ falls – and the drastic impacts on the lives and lifestyles of those victims.

Based on the research conducted following last year’s inaugural campaign, a third slogan and poster will be added to this year’s program:

Watch Your Step – Wherever you are.

A copy of the new poster, together with a continuation of the two successful posters from last year will be distributed later this month to pharmacies throughout the province. The posters will be accompanied by 8 ½" x 5 ½" handout sized versions with safety information for seniors on the back.

If the posters could be displayed and if one of the small handouts, outlined above, is distributed to seniors with each prescription package, this could do a great deal to help build awareness of falls prevention among our seniors and their families.

As the health care practitioners with perhaps the most frequent contact with seniors, pharmacists are in an optimum position to counsel seniors on falls prevention. Pharmacists face increasing time pressures in their daily activities, but taking a few moments to distribute this important falls prevention information could make an important impact in the efforts to keep seniors active and independent.

In the next edition of The Link we will outline some details of North America’s most comprehensive algorithm for seniors’ falls risk identification and prevention, which will be available to all health care providers. This will include a wide range of advice in how to identify potential problems, and provide solutions.

For more information about the campaign, or for campaign materials, contact the Alberta Centre for Injury Control & Research at 780-492-6019 or acicr@ualberta.ca.

Originally published in the October 6, 2009, issue of The Link


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