3 steps to prevent a fall

Expert shares tips for older adults to avoid the most common cause of injury.

Falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults. In fact, 20 to 30 per cent of seniors in Alberta will fall at least once a year.

After a fall, many people are unable to live the way they want. They may lose their independence or live in fear of falling again. Falling is not a natural part of aging and can be prevented, as people with strong legs and good balance are less likely to experience a fall.

Luckily, no matter what your abilities are today, your strength and balance can be improved. Get started with these tips from Kathy Belton, associate director of the Injury Prevention Centre in the School of Public Health.

  1. Challenge your balance
    Balance is controlling your movements. Practice movements such as reaching while standing, toe and heel raises, stepping in different directions, step-ups or half-squats. Try tai chi, yoga or sports that challenge your balance. "By challenging one's balance in controlled ways, individuals are better able to right themselves if they trip," says Belton.

  2. Build strength
    "Ensuring good leg strength prevents falls, but also makes the activities of daily life easier," says Belton. She suggests exercises to improve the strength in your leg muscles, using bands, weights or your own body weight. Try squats, hamstring curls and side leg lifts.

  3. Be active
    Do the activities you enjoy. Try to do 30 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous activity or exercise at least five times per week. Walk, dance, garden, bicycle or swim. The possibilities are endless.

Finding Balance, an initiative of the Injury Prevention Centre, is a falls prevention program that provides seniors and practitioners with the latest information and resources to help seniors live an active and independent lifestyle.

Visit findingbalancealberta.ca for more information, and check out the free resources available in the Resource Catalogue.

November is Falls Prevention Month. It is a time to raise awareness about falls prevention and injuries among older adults and to encourage leadership and collaboration among health professionals, communities and families in support of seniors' health.

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