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Help stem the increase in seniors falls

September 8, 2009

Pharmacists are again being asked to be key front-line contacts in an upcoming health campaign targeted at preventing falls among Alberta’s seniors.

The first “Finding Balance” falls prevention program was a great success from the moment it was launched on Nov. 3rd last year by Premier Stelmach, Health and Wellness Minister Liepert and Seniors and Community Supports Minister Jablonski.  

Further details of last year’s initial program can be found at

More than 150,000 posters, pamphlets and support materials were produced and distributed through pharmacies, health regions, health care offices and seniors’ centres.

Alberta’s pharmacy wholesale distributors have again volunteered to distribute the promotional and information material to retail pharmacies throughout the province.

While final creative work is still underway for this year’s campaign, the focus will target what is referred to as “well seniors”, in attempts to provide prevention information to protect them from falling. Last year’s two themes:

  • Check Your Medications – Talk to your Doctor or Pharmacist
  • Keep Active – Exercise for Strength and Balance

will be supplemented by a third theme this year, which will be:

  • Watch Your Step – Wherever you are

Did you know…

Some dramatic statistics relative to seniors’ falls, going back to the latest detailed study in 2006, prompted the Alberta Centre for Injury Control & Research (ACICR) to plan the implementation of such a program.

The study told us:

  • Falls were the leading cause of injury-related hospital admissions in Alberta, with 19 fall-related admissions of seniors each day, and 2 fall-related emergency department visits every hour;
  • Seniors’ fall-related injuries resulted in more than 6,900 hospital admissions and 18,700 emergency department visits;
  • The direct cost of seniors’ falls to the Alberta economy was nearly $88 million.  It has subsequently been estimated that this number will increase to $250 million by 2033.

Adding further to this, 1 in 3 seniors will experience a fall each year, and up to 50% of those in institutions will have a fall.

Campaign sponsors

The two primary organizations responsible for developing and maintaining the campaign are the ACICR and the Alberta Medical Association. They were joined, as sponsors of the program, in last year’s campaign by a number of other health-related organizations, including Alberta Health & Wellness and the Alberta Physiotherapy Association. Many other health care and seniors organizations participated in a province-wide Advisory Committee, which provided counsel on the development and implementation of the program.

This is the first of a series of updates on the preparations and plans for this year’s “Finding Balance” seniors’ falls prevention program. Additional information will be provided in each of the next five editions of The Link.

Originally published in the September 8, 2009, issue of The Link