Falls are the leading cause of serious injuries in older adults; every year, one in three older adults will fall. The growing number of falls among Ontario’s seniors and the devastating consequences from falls has prompted Finding Balance; seniors focussed awareness and injury prevention program.
“Finding Balance aims to help seniors stay active and independent. Seniors have so much to contribute and are a vital part of our families and communities.” says Alysa Heersink, Health Promoter with the Grey Bruce Health Unit. “While the cost to our health care system from falls is significant; they are small when compared to the impacts on the independence and quality of life of seniors experiencing falls.”
In 2011, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care reported over 27,000 injuries related to falls among seniors. Falls account for 59% of injury-related emergency room visits by seniors in Ontario.
Locally in 2006 - 2007, 645 patients over the age of 65 were admitted to the Emergency Department at Grey Bruce Health Services with a fracture. Of those, 132 were hip fractures. Direct health care costs for a hip fracture are about $55,000 with an average of $36,000 to $40,000 in additional care required in the year following the fracture.
Falls are the result of a number of factors, one of which is age. The risk of falling and being injured increases as people get older. Finding Balance aims to educate and raise awareness among seniors and future seniors about the importance of leading a healthy and safe lifestyle. The focus is on preventing falls through improving health and fitness, safety in the home, reviewing medications and speaking up about dizziness.
Finding Balance was developed at the University of Alberta School of Public Health and has adapted for use in Ontario. An Advisory Committee of multi-disciplinary health care professionals from all over Southwestern Ontario, including the Grey Bruce Health Unit, guides the initiative.
To learn more, please visit www.findingbalanceontario.ca.