Falls are the most common cause of injuries among people older than 65. Nearly half occur at home. They are one of the leading causes of preventable injury. Among senior citizens, a fall typically leads to an emergency-room visit, hospitalization, admission to a long-term care home and, ultimately, a downward spiral to death. The following story is a cautionary tale for the boomer generation.
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The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates one in three people older than 65 will fall at least once a year, a rate that increases to one in two for people over the age of 80. This means about 1.3 million Canadian seniors will fall this year. In 2006, almost half of all injury-related deaths among seniors in Canada were caused by falls.
Toronto Rehab Director of Research, Geoff Fernie, explains the different virtual labs that deal with research on how people fall. Toronto Star Watch the fall video click here.
The morning newspaper usually lay on the stone stoop of Jean Campbell’s bungalow, nestled in the tall trees of Lawrence Park. But on this frigid February day in 2000, it landed below the two short steps on the flagstone walkway.
Impeccably dressed in a knee-length skirt and freshly pressed blouse, she stepped briskly down the stairs in her slippers. She didn’t see the patch of black ice and pitched forward onto the cold walkway. Instinctively, her arms shot out — but Campbell was 84 years of age, and her arms could not cushion her landing.
Snap. Snap. Both wrists broke.
But in that moment, everything began to change. It was the first in a series of falls that would chip away at the energetic woman’s health and confidence.
“A fall can be the beginning of the end, which it was for my mother,” says her daughter, Anne Stephens, a nurse who has dedicated much of her 20-year career to geriatrics and fall prevention. “Every fall made it worse and she got frailer and frailer.”
At least one senior in Ontario visits an emergency department every 10 minutes because of a fall; every 30 minutes at least one is admitted to hospital, according to a 2007 report by the Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre.
If the problem of falls isn’t addressed it will get worse. Seniors are our fastest-growing population: By 2031 they will represent 24 per cent of the population and cost $4.4 billion for injuries related to falls.
Read the full story on The Star.
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