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Summer has Arrived!

We had to wait for it this year, but it finally feels like summer has actually arrived.  It’s so nice to sit back, relax and enjoy the warmth and the sunshine. Shoulders drop and life’s just a little more carefree this time of the year. But if you think it’s time you can forget about paying attention to your footing and how you’re getting from A to B, well listen up. Falls, or as I’ve heard them called the ‘scourge of the 65+ crowd’ happen in all seasons and in all weather.   July is no exception.

There are a host of reasons why people fall.  Sometimes it really is a slippery sidewalk and  sometimes it actually is the proverbial banana peel that’s to blame, but for seniors, falls usually occur for other reasons.   Popular belief has it that most falls by seniors can likely be attributed to the following:

  • chronic health conditions
  • reaction to medications
  • dizziness 

Without question, any of those things can lead to a fall, but a study out of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia indicates that something else might be an even bigger contributor to the problem.  It suggests that ‘incorrect transfers’ actually accounted for a staggering 41% of all falls by seniors in the study. In other words, awkward movements, over corrections or shifting one’s center of gravity ineffectively were the greatest cause of all falls. For example, this might refer to a poorly executed move from a wheelchair to a bed.

The study was conducted on seniors in long term care but I think the study results might also be relevant for seniors outside of a care facility and for those who don’t require the use of assistive devices. For those older adults, an awkward reach for a misplaced garden tool for example, can lead to an overcorrection of their footing, a stumble and then a fall.   Still on the backyard patio theme, sometimes getting out of a low and unstable lawn chair can trip you up and get you off balance and end in a fall. It happens. 

This study is interesting. The take away for me is that whatever your physical ability, be smart about how you move around in your space.  Whether it’s navigating an icy parking lot in December or a backyard BBQ in July, take the time you need to move efficiently and safely. Here’s to a happy, healthy and fall-free summer for us all.

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