November is Falls Prevention month, with a focus on helping seniors in particular understand what they can do to avert falls through strategies such as keeping active, correcting vision problems and checking medications. Bow Valley Primary Care Network is showcasing these tactics at Falls Preventions Fairs in Canmore and Banff.
Free of charge and open to all Bow Valley Residents, the Fairs will build awareness of self-help approaches that can improve health, independence, and mobility, reducing the risk of falls. The Canmore Fairs take place on November 2 at Bow River Senior Citizens Lodge and on November 3 at Origin at Spring Creek. Both run from 1:00 – 4:00pm. A similar falls prevention afternoon, including a presentation on balance and gait, is being organized at Banff Seniors Centre, on November 30, in which the PCN will participate.
Bow Valley PCN’s Pharmacist, Jolene Gunn, is organizing the Canmore events. She says that falls are the leading cause of serious injuries in older adults, with as many as one third of seniors falling each year. “However, there are many ways of reducing this risk,” says Jolene. “For example, keeping active can build strength and improve both balance and the reflex response, so if someone starts to fall, they can more easily recover. This also builds confidence. Sometimes if a person has had a fall, they become anxious, mobility is reduced and they can become isolated, which impacts negatively on their emotional and physical wellbeing.”
Bow Valley PCN’s Active Living Consultants will be present at the Fairs to provide guidance on appropriate physical activity, including the PCN’s Adult Indoor Walking Program (starting in January). Jolene will be available to discuss how adjustments to medication can help minimize risks either from the medications themselves or from medical conditions, such as low blood pressure or dehydration. “Furthermore, unmanaged pain predisposes ‘guarding’, which affects movement negatively,” she explains. “It’s also important to help avoid fractures by maintaining healthy bone mass through regular weight-bearing exercise and by taking calcium and vitamin-D supplements.”
Screening and advice
Each Fair begins with a twenty-minute introduction, covering basic information about falls prevention and ways of making the environment at home and in the community safer. Health professionals will be available at dedicated booths to offer advice on physical therapy/mobility screening, occupational therapy/functional screening, optometry/vision screening and foot-care. As well, Visitors to the Fairs can try out mobility equipment, such as walkers, canes and ice cleats, as well as learn about medical alert systems.