Accidents can happen at any age, but the number of candles on your birthday cake increase your risk of having one. Your age is also a significant predictor of how severely you’ll injure yourself in case you experience a fall or motor vehicle accident.
Every day, the Integracare team helps Seniors recover from these health emergencies in the comfort of their own homes, so they can get better in a familiar setting. With nursing staff, Massage and Physiotherapists, and Personal Support Workers (PSWs), we can provide for all the physical and medical needs our Clients in a way that preserves independence and quality of life.
Seniors — just like any adult or child — can hurt themselves in a surprising number of ways, but here are the most common injuries treated by our teams:
- Ankle sprains
- Broken or Sprained Wrists
- Herniated Discs
- Hip Fractures
- Repetitive Strain Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
The Leading Cause of Injuries Among Seniors
While every Senior’s health journey is different, studies show that falls, fires, and motor vehicle accidents are the leading causes of injuries among Seniors. Keep reading to find out why and how to protect yourself.
Count to five in your head. By the time you’re done, five Seniors will have fallen. That’s according to the Center for Disease Control, which reports a Senior falls every second, amounting to 36 million falls over an entire year in the U.S.
Here in Canada, Seniors also face elevated risks, with 20–30 percent of older Canadians experiencing one or more falls each year. These falls are the cause of 85 percent of all injuries that send Seniors to hospital and 95 percent of all hip fractures.
Besides being a painful and traumatic event, a fall can result in a steep decline in your health. Fractured hips and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) can rob you of your independence, pushing many Seniors into long-term care or nursing care.
Why Are Seniors More Prone to Falls?
For most people, the risk of age-related falls coincides with a natural decline in muscle mass and bone density.
Sarcopenia is the medical term that describes muscle loss with aging. It’s responsible for a three to five percent dip in your muscle mass every decade after you turn 30. You could lose about a third of your entire muscle mass over your lifetime!
This happens at the same time a lot of Seniors are also losing bone density as a result of previous injuries, repetitive strain, medication, and age. Otherwise known as osteopenia, bone mass loss combines with sarcopenia to deliver a one-two punch to your physical resilience. Not only do you face an increased risk of falls but you’re also more likely to severely hurt yourself.
Sarcopenia and osteopenia mean three things: you’re weaker, your bones are more fragile, and your mobility might be restricted. These three factors increase the chances a fall results in a health emergency.
According to the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, sarcopenia is a considerable predictor of injury. Seniors with muscle loss are 2.3 times as likely to break their arms, wrists, collarbones, hips, and legs in a fall.
Tips for Preventing Falls in the Home
While falls may be common for Seniors, you can prevent accidents by following our top fall prevention tips below.
Stay Active and Limber
You can fight back against the natural decline of muscle mass and bone density with an active lifestyle. Walking is the perfect weight-bearing exercise for Seniors, as it helps improve bone density, strengthen muscles, and improve your coordination.
However, any activity can go a long way to reducing your risk of falls, including yoga, swimming, weightlifting, tai chi, and more.
Staying loose and limber will also do great things for your mobility. Check out our favourite stretches and exercises for Seniors to improve your balance and reduce the risk of falls.
Make Essential Changes and Upgrades to Your Home
Your home could be full of hazards that increase your risk of a fall, no matter how active you are. Luckily, you can easily remove them by tweaking your habits and installing the right safety aids.
- Remove clutter and other obstacles from the floor
- Wear comfortable shoes with treads in the house
- Install handrails in the staircases in and around your home
- Mount ramps at the entrance to your home
- Install bathroom guardrails and grab bars to give you support in your shower or bathtub
- Place nonslip mats at the bottom of showers and bathtubs
- Plug in nightlights to keep your home visible at night
Invest in the Best Home Care Mississauga & Toronto Has to Offer
Last but definitely not least, home care in Mississauga and Toronto is one of the best ways Seniors can prevent falls.
With a roster of compassionate and talented healthcare professionals, Integracare partners you with a qualified Personal Support Worker (PSW) who provides personal companionship and medical support.
Our more independent Clients rely on PSWs for a variety of things — from a spot-checker as they workout or support with high-risk activities like cleaning up and gardening.
Our PSWs can also scale their services to support you as your health needs change. They can help you with Activities of Daily Life (ADLs), including bathing, dressing, feeding, medication reminders, meal preparation, and incontinence care.
Our home care in Mississauga and Toronto also includes Registered Nurses (RNs) and Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) in case you need greater medical support and nursing care today or in the far-off future.
Whichever home care services you choose, we make sure there’s always someone in the home looking out for our Clients.
While you can experience a fire at any age, Seniors are more vulnerable to these catastrophic events — whether they affect the whole house or light up an overheated pan on the stove. According to the National Fire Protection Association, older adults 65 years or older are twice as likely to be killed or injured in a fire than younger adults.
Older adults are more prone to injuring themselves in a fire for many of the same reasons why Seniors are more prone to falls.
Reduced mobility and other physical disabilities can make it harder for Seniors to respond to a fire, navigate their homes, and make a timely escape. Some Seniors may also be dealing with cognitive issues or side effects from medication that increase their risk of burns or death caused by fire, especially if they live alone.
Tips for Preventing Fires
Some of the fire prevention tips below can help anyone stay safe and fire-free, regardless of age. However, we’re also sharing some our favourite age-specific advice for maintaining safety at home for Seniors below.
Practise Safety at Home
Subtle changes to the way you live your life can significantly reduce your chances of starting a fire and burning yourself.
- Don’t leave the kitchen while using the stove
- Use timers to remind you of anything cooking in the oven
- Install carbon monoxide and smoke alarms throughout your home
- Know how to smother a grease fire with salt — never use flour, baking powder, sugar, or water
- Have fire extinguishers on every floor, making sure you have the right class for each room
- Have a fire escape plan to ensure you have multiple routes of egress
- If you smoke, do it outside
- Never burn a candle unsupervised
- Don’t overload extension cords and electrical sockets
- Use surge protectors when possible
Sign up for the Best Dementia Care Toronto and Mississauga Have to Offer
Dementia and Alzheimer’s are degenerative diseases with profound impact on memory, coordination, and critical thinking skills.
Someone living with Dementia is more likely to forget about a pan on the stove or candle burning near something flammable. Mistakes like these can easily lead to a fire that they may not be equipped to control or escape on their own.
If you or a loved one is living with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, reach out to us here at Integracare. We are the only home health care company to be called a “Dementia Friendly” provider by the Alzheimer Society of Toronto (AST).
Our pioneering collaboration with the AST ensures our frontline health workers receive comprehensive training programs, resources, and tools to provide the best Dementia Care in Toronto and Mississauga.
All that’s to say is our team of professionals provide compassionate and effective home care to ensure our Clients age in place safely. Our Dementia and Live in Caregivers can be at you or your loved one’s side 24/7 and help everyone avoid burns and fires.
3. Motor Vehicle Accidents
Collisions on the road are another leading cause of injuries for Seniors — from TBIs and fractures to serious wounds and abrasions. Unfortunately, older adults also face a greater risk of requiring long-term care and institutionalization following a car accident if their injuries are serious enough.
Several factors increase your risk behind the wheel. Age-related vision issues can make it harder to see obstacles in the road, traffic lights, other drivers, and pedestrians. Cognitive issues may also affect your ability to remember the rules of the road or respond fast enough to brake lights and avoid a fender bender.
Your overall health can also get in the way of your driving if you suffer from cardiovascular disease or Dementia. Even sleep disturbances, which are common in older adults, could impact driving. According to the Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who sleep four to five hours a night are 5.4 times more likely to be in a crash.
Tips for Preventing Motor Vehicle Accidents
Our at home health care professionals can help with caring for a wound or injury that you receive from a collision. These restorative treatments allow Seniors to recuperate at home where they feel comfortable, rather than relying on hospital or nursing staff.
But in our opinion, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You can reduce your risk of being in a life-altering accident by following the tips below.
Avoid Night Driving and Inclement Weather
Summer might be here in the GTA, but meteorologists promise it’s going to be a volatile one full of storms. With a chance of driving through heavy rains and thunderstorms, adjust your driving to the conditions. This rule of thumb includes staying home in inclement weather.
If you suffer from vision loss or an astigmatism, try to avoid driving at night as well. It’s harder to see things on the road in the darkness, even with traffic lights guiding the way. You’ll also be at your drowsiest at the end of the night, and your fatigue could lead you to make mistakes.
Arrange another way to get where you need to be or stay home.
Understand Your Medication
Whether it’s to treat an infection or a chronic condition, your medication can have unintended side effects that increase your hazards while driving, especially if they make you feel foggy, dizzy, or drowsy.
Read the drug labels carefully to catch any warnings and test any medication before you get behind the wheel.
Know When to Hang up Your Car Keys
If you’ve had a few close calls, or you worry about your loved ones on the road, driving may no longer be a safe activity. Driving beyond your abilities isn’t just an unsafe personal decision — it risks anyone else with which you share the road.
Giving up your licence can be an incredibly hard decision to make, as driving is a symbol of independence for many Seniors. And no wonder — it may be the only way you can get around, go grocery shopping, or visit loved ones. Without a car, you can feel stuck at home or that going into nursing care is the only option.
Here at Integracare, we offer at home care that includes accompanying you to medical appointments, classes, and social engagements throughout your day and even booking your transportation for you.
To round out your transportation, we recommend talking to your loved ones about receiving rides and investigating your municipality’s public transit and Senior transportation services. Between the three, you can still get around as usual and age in place with dignity.
In Conclusion: Be Mindful, Be Safe
We don’t bring up these risks to scare you. Far from it! Our intention is to educate our Clients and Caregivers so that Seniors can make informed decisions about their health as they age. Following the tips we shared here today can help you avoid a life-changing injury from preventable falls, fires, or motor vehicle accidents.
Of course, by definition, some accidents are truly bad luck and unavoidable. Remember the Integracare name when you need help recovering from any injury, big or small.
Not only do we provide outstanding nursing support and wound care, we also help our recovering Clients with Massage Therapy and Physiotherapy services for Seniors, so you don’t have to go to appointments outside of the house.
Give us a call to arrange any of our services today. With a compassionate Caregiver at your side, you’ll have a greater chance of preventing or recovering from injuries at home.