A Little Effort goes a Long Way in Falls Prevention

Riverside Glen kinesiologist on what residents should know

By Kristian Partington

There’s no denying the fact that when an older adult falls, the ramifications can be terribly difficult to manage. The natural aging process renders many older adults vulnerable to serious fractures, even in cases of seemingly minor falls, and recovery can take a long time.

And yet, with a little forethought, awareness and perhaps a few lifestyle changes, many of the falls that affect an average of 63 older adults in Ontario every day can be prevented. November is Fall Prevention Month in Ontario, and across Schlegel Villages, team members and residents are doing their best to highlight this important concern.  

A fall, says Riverside Glen retirement kinesiologist Kylie Martin, “changes your life, even if it’s the quickest thing. It can be the easiest thing to prevent but once it happens, it affects the rest of your life.”

As a former falls prevention specialist with the Victorian Order of Nurses serving older adults living in independent settings in several communities, she’s had ample opportunity to consider the effects of falls and various means of prevention.  

Kylie says the “smallest thing can make the biggest changes.” When she discusses falls prevention she talks about things like proper footwear, removing tripping hazards from rooms, understanding the side effects of all medications, moving slowly from sitting to standing to avoid drops in blood pressure; all of these simple steps can help people prevent a tragic fall.

During the month of November, Riverside Glen team members, led by Kylie and long-term care kinesiologist Laura Kratz, will be sharing this information throughout the village with residents and families. There will also be a “wisdom talk” on Nov. 23, featuring residents from both the long-term care and retirement neighbourhoods. These residents both suffered a fall and have worked hard to recover. By sharing their stories with fellow residents the hope is that others will be inspired to deeply consider what can be done to prevent the same struggle in their own lives. 

Kylie also encourages residents will take advantage of the unique Program for Active Living (PAL), where teams of kinesiologists and exercises therapists in every village offer individually-tailored exercise regimens for each resident. Through the program, residents improve strength, balance and mobility, which can make such a difference in the split second before a fall happens.

“The residents in our PAL program,” Kylie says, “we’re focusing on their strength and balance the whole time and, really, they are the ones that are not falling because they are so strong.”  

A little effort every day can have the biggest impact, Kylie says, and she hopes Fall Prevention Month will inspire residents to consider this truth every day of the year.