An ounce of prevention…

Until six months ago, Doreen Wilson was still going strong

Until six months ago, Doreen Wilson was still going strong, working at her son’s fruit and vegetable farm. “I did all the flowers, a lot of the raking, sweeping and cleaning,” the 89-year-old says proudly.

And then she fell. Not once, but twice.

The first fall resulted in no injury, so she went back to her regular routine.

“Two months later I was getting back to normal, doing some housework, dusting, and all of a sudden my foot went out from under me and I went down,” Wilson recalled.

A pair of old slippers was the culprit. And this time, she broke the femur in her left leg. The great-grandmother now has three pins in her hip and a metal rod in her leg.

“I’m a bionic woman now,” she said from her hospital bed, where she’s spent the past two months undergoing rehab and getting falls prevention education and support.

To coincide with national Falls Prevention Week Nov. 2 to 8, this year, the BC Falls and Injury Prevention Coalition (BCFIPC) is launched a month-long public awareness campaign in November for falls prevention in the community.

“Doreen’s situation is one that is common among many seniors and with winter approaching, there is an increased risk of losing footing and falling, which raises the risk of injuries that can limit independence,” said Darryl Plecas, parliamentary secretary for seniors.

“Many falls are preventable and I encourage older British Columbians and their families to learn more about falls prevention.”

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths and hospitalizations for seniors in British Columbia, said Heather Fudge, Island Health’s clinical nurse specialist, seniors and spiritual health.

“That’s why we work so hard to identify patients in our facilities who are at risk. We want to make sure we follow best practice to avoid falls,” Fudge said. “But what’s also important is continuing that education in the community so that seniors don’t fall in the first place. Forty per cent of admissions to residential care facilities are because the senior has fallen, suffered a major fracture and is no longer able to stay at home, usually due to mobility issues.”

Fudge says small things can make a big difference for seniors when it comes to preventing falls: stay physically active, make your home safer, get your medications reviewed, get your eyes checked once a year.

Wilson considers herself proactive when it comes to falls prevention, but there is one thing she plans to do when she gets home.

“I had slippers that were old and had lost their tread,” she said. “So that means I better smarten up and buy myself some good slippers.”

More info: findingbalancebc.ca or www.viha.ca/seniors/safety/falls.htm for more information.

Submitted by the Vancouver Island Health Authority