Be Ready, Be Steady is this year’s Fall Prevention Month theme. This pan-Canadian campaign raises awareness about preventing indoor and outdoor falls.
The World Health Organization reports that falls are the second leading cause of accidental injury deaths worldwide and adults over 65 suffer the greatest number of fatal falls.
People with hearing loss have an increased risk of falling because of dysfunctions in the inner ear. The cochlea, which provides hearing, also shares space with the part of the inner ear that provides spatial orientation, motion and equilibrium. Decreased hearing may also limit access to auditory clues like not hearing your own footsteps, leading to tripping and falling.
It is also known that people with hearing loss use more mental resources to hear and interpret speech and sounds, which can cause cognitive overload when the brain shifts focus from concentrating on balance to focusing on listening.
According to research, hearing aids provide auditory reference points to help maintain balance, which makes visiting a hearing care professional for hearing tests and regular hearing aid maintenance check-ups, essential to fall prevention.
Part of being ready and steady is conquering the fear of falling so that people continue to embrace their usual, daily activities and don’t experience social isolation.
Creating a safe environment both indoors and outdoors is key to preventing falls. Here are some tips to follow in and around your home:
- Ensure favourable lighting both inside and out
- Correct any cracks or uneven pavement
- Install handrails and grip bars indoors and outdoors on stairs and near slippery surfaces
- Wear safe non-slip footwear
- Wear corrective lenses if prescribed
- Wear hearing aids to help with balance issues
- Consider a medic alert button. If a fall should occur, communication to help is readily available.
Remaining physically active also helps prevent falls because it improves muscle strength, balance and flexibility. When you do fall, it is important to know how to get back up! Follow these steps:
- Catch your breath and check for injuries
- Lie on your side, bend the top leg and lift yourself onto your elbows or hands
- Pull yourself toward a sturdy object, then kneel and place both hands on the object
- Place your strong leg in front, still holding onto the object
- Stand up as soon as you can, turn and sit down
- Remain Calm
But what happens if you try and getting up is out of the question? Try the following:
- Call out for help
- Call for help if you have a cell phone with you
- Try to slide or move where you can be heard or to where you have a phone
- Attract attention
- Wait for help in the most comfortable position for you
- Try to stay warm with a coat or blanket
- Try to carefully move joints to prevent stiffness until help arrives
Be Ready, Be Steady. Let’s try to stay on our feet!
For more information on the Be Ready, Be Steady Campaign visit their website.
For support with hearing loss challenges and home safety signaling devices, contact our office.