Simple tips could help more aging Canadians live at home independently

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The dose21:38What are some simple tips to help prevent falls?

Among seniors, falls are the number one cause of hospitalization due to injury. And about half of those hospitalizations are the result of a fall at home. Dr. Brian Goldman talks to occupational therapist Marnie Courage about some simple tips to help reduce your risk of falling. 21:38

People who are just starting to feel shaky could benefit from small changes in their home and behavior to help them stay independent for as long as possible, Canadian experts say.

Falls are the main cause accidental deaths among people aged 65 and over. Making simple changes like adding colored tape to the edge of the stairs or a grab bar in the tub to prevent a fall could reduce the risk of a fall.

Occupational therapists are the essentials health professionals to solve problems that interfere with a person’s ability to do activities such as self-care and enjoy leisure activities, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) said in its 2021 Health Workforce Report.

Marnie Courage, an occupational therapist in Winnipeg, suggests that people can get more for their renovation dollars by focusing on bathroom safety.

“The majority of these falls occur in or around a bathroom.” Courage said in conversation with CBC Radio host Dr Brian Goldman White coat, black art and The dose Podcast. “Making changes to a bathroom can have a huge impact on your function and your safety. “

As the population ages, you could get that money back when you resell your home, she said.

Courage answered questions from the public about fall prevention and recovery at home, such as how to adapt to wearing bifocals when climbing stairs, why a single handrail doesn’t cut it and why walking is a complete way to maintain the strength and balance we need to prevent falls.

Staircase safety

Bifocals help you see things up close to read or watch a screen. But if you move around, they’re not ideal.

When we climb stairs while wearing bifocals, the bottom half of our lenses become blurry, distorting where the foot is, Courage said.

Seniors line up for their COVID-19 vaccinations at a screening center in Vancouver in March. The stronger your muscles and joints as you age, the more you will be able to continue walking. (Ben Nelms / CBC)

This can make it difficult to distinguish where the “nose” is – the protruding edge of the staircase where you plant your foot.

“You can lose your foot or think you are on the edge when you are not, which can cause falls,” she said.

“I would suggest that for people who have bifocals, especially if you are newly prescribed… get used to really using your head to look at your feet, but first make sure they have a steady grip on them. these handrails. “

2 standard handrail

Having handrails on both sides of the steps will help someone who is weak on one side, such as after a stroke or knee replacement, to successfully walk up and down.

“If you’ve heard this saying, ‘This first step is a doozy.’ I really think that applies here because the handrails should really extend to the floor at the bottom of the stairs and go above that upper staircase so that you have some leverage. ”

At the first step, we need something to hold onto before going down. Basically, it also helps to have something to grow.

WATCH: Tips for preventing falls in your home:

Fall prevention tips for your home

White Coat host, Black Art, Dr. Brian Goldman, visits UHN’s KITE Research Institute HomeLab to learn some fall prevention tips for your home. 3:59

Placing colored duct tape over the nose of the step gives your brain a cue to better plan the coordination we need to climb the stairs, Courage said.

The many benefits of walking

With Canadians staying more at home during the pandemic, doctors say we have become deconditioned. We used our muscles less frequently because we sat down more.

Marnie Courage is an occupational therapist in Winnipeg. (Submitted by Marnie Courage / Enabling Access)

Walking is one way to counter the trend.

Courage said that the stronger your muscles and joints are to maintain alignment, balance, and strength, the better able you are to continue walking in and around your home.

Paige Larson, an athletic physiotherapist at North Shore Sports Medicine in North Vancouver, said any activity that involves standing to support your own weight, such as walking, dancing, individual or group exercise classes, helps. to strength and balance.

“People give up on sports because they think they’re too dangerous or they can fall,” Larson said. “Maybe there are adaptive ways of doing things. If walking becomes difficult, then add posts can improve their security instead of just giving it up. “

Larson encouraged everyone to improve their balance and strength. It may take longer with age.


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