The Safe Living Guide
The Government of Canada has recently published their Safe Living Guide, which gives tips and advice to Canadians over 65 to help them avoid falls and stay safe in their homes. Read on for some key points and highlights from the guide.
The facts: seniors & injuries
Falls are the leading cause of injury among Canadians aged 65+, with 20-30% experiencing a fall each year. They are a direct cause of 95% of hip fractures and account for 85% of hospital admissions among this age group. Around half of all falls happen at home, with the bathroom and stairs being particularly hazardous areas. Fear of falling can cause older Canadians to limit their activities, however this can lead to a loss of strength and flexibility and actually increase your risk of falling.
The facts: aging brings changes
Aging can bring certain changes to your body that can increase your risk of falling and make the consequences more serious.
Changes to your eyes can mean they take longer to adjust from light to dark and your depth perception declines, both of which can increase your likelihood of falling. Balance involves the eyes, inner ear, muscular strength, and joint flexibility. These can all change as you age, making it more likely you’ll experience a fall.
In addition, since bones become less dense and weaker with age, falls can more easily lead to painful fractures and a reduction in mobility.
Keeping your home safe
The Safe Living Guide provides a checklist to help you avoid falls around your home. You can find some key takeaways below and see the full list of tips for each room here.
- Make sure entrances, rooms and hallways are well lit.
- Equip stairs, outdoor pathways, and decks with railings.
- Ensure hallways and other high traffic areas in your home are free of clutter and obstacles.
- Make sure doorways have a low sill/threshold to avoid tripping.
- Secure rugs and mats in place to avoid slipping and remove them from the top of stairs.
- Keep an eye out for pets to make sure they don’t get under your feet.
- Be sure to use non-skid floor wax.
Keeping safe with safety aids
Using a safety aid can be a good way of avoiding falls, as well as boosting your confidence and mobility.
Canes are often the first port of call if you need some help walking. They can be fitted with a wrist strap to prevent dropping and spikes can be added to the bottom for extra grip on icy days.
If walking for more than 20 minutes is difficult for you, it could be worth getting a walker. They can help you go further and some models even have a seat in case you need to rest.
The bathroom is one of the places where you’re most at risk of falling. Bathroom aids can help lower that risk.
- Rubber-backed bathmats next to the tub or shower can help avoid slipping.
- Bath seats which allow you to sit while you bathe or shower are good if you struggle to stand for long periods. Some models are specially designed to make it easier to get in and out of the tub.
- Grab bars and poles can be installed beside the bathtub, shower, and toilet to help prevent slips and falls.
- Raised toilet seats can make it easier to get on and off the toilet.
You can shop the range of bathroom safety products available at Wellwise by Shoppers™ here.
Keeping safe through adapting your home
If you’re thinking about renovating, you might consider adding a few additional safety features to help make your home a comfortable and safe place to be for years to come.
- Think about adding more lighting in high traffic areas and installing switches at both the bottom and the top of your stairs. Consider installing switches lower on the walls if someone in your house uses a wheelchair.
- Consider adding more electrical outlets to help prevent overloading and tripping on cords from extension leads.
- If you’re replacing a door, it may be a good idea to remove the door sill as it can be a tripping hazard. You may also want to widen doorways to accommodate wheelchairs and think about replacing doorknobs with handles, which are easier to use.
- Make sure the backs of stairs are closed in and there are sturdy handrails on either side. Stairways should be well lit and have a non-skid surface.
- If you’re replacing flooring, opt for slip-resistant flooring such as carpet.
You can find the full list of home adaptation recommendations here.
At Wellwise by Shoppers™, we offer a range of home services to help you feel safe and confident at home. Our team of CAPS-certified consultants will carry out a thorough assessment and make recommendations for suitable adaptations. These may include home entry modifications such as elevators and lifts, as well as bathroom safety adaptations. Learn more here.
Falls are the leading cause of hospitalization among Canadians over 65 and can lead to a loss of independence and reduced quality of life. However, most falls are preventable. By taking advantage of assistive devices such as canes and walkers, adapting your home to make it a safer place, and keeping yourself active and healthy, you can significantly reduce your risk of falling and remain in your home for many years to come.
The information presented in this article is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information in this post as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for professional counseling care. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.