A fall for a senior can be catastrophic.
According to Statistics Canada, falls are the most common cause of injury for older Canadians and about one in three seniors 65-years and older are likely to fall at least once over the course of a year.
Falls are also one of the leading causes of injury-related hospitalizations among seniors.
That is why Fraser Health is inviting seniors across the province to take advantage of their Falls Prevention Clinic which went virtual in April because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Normally, the clinic would be held at both the Maple Ridge Seniors Activity Centre and the Pitt Meadows Seniors Activity Centre four times a year – twice at each location.
As their work involves the most vulnerable population, explained, Shianne Bains, coordinator of falls and injury prevention with Fraser Health, they had to stop holding them in-person because the clinics are very hands on.
The good thing about holding the clinics virtually, said Bains, is that there is an option for people to be assessed by a physiotherapist, but the bad thing is that a lot of seniors are still unable to access their services because of the technology.
“Of the ones that have been on our waiting list to see the falls prevention clinic, I’ld say roughly between one third and a half of them aren’t able to do virtual,” noted Bains.
Before the pandemic put a stop to the in-person clinics, participants would be able to have a physiological assessment done that would involve balance, leg strength, vision, body awareness and reaction time. A report would then be generated and given to a physiotherapist who would assign them home exercises or community exercise classes that they could take part in. They would also assess whether they need a cane, walker or some sort of mobility aid and then a pharmacist would do a medication review with them.
Now the assessment is done virtually where a physiotherapist watches them walk and perform some pre-determined tests in front of a smart device.
Then the pharmacist will connect with them over a Zoom call to do the medication review.
“It’s close to how it used to be,” said Bains.
Fraser Health is also holding a series of presentations on falls prevention.
Since spots in the clinics are being saved for those who are “really vulnerable and frail and are at a really high risk of falling”, said Bains, the presentations are a good option to gain knowledge about falls prevention and are open to everybody interested.
In the upcoming presentation Fraser Health will be addressing exercise options and how to become active at least 15 to 20 minutes per day by working on balance and strength and aerobic activity like walking, swimming or using a stationary bike.
The other focus of the presentation will be on home safety like having a hip protector or a personal fall alarm system, eliminating fall hazards like throw rugs and wearing the proper footwear.
The next set of presentations will be taking place Aug. 18-20.
Referral for the clinics can be through a family doctor, the hospital or kidney care clinics. Self referrals are also being accepted.
But, important to note, said Bains, that just because you call in doesn’t mean that they will automatically put you on the clinic list.
A questionnaire will have to be completed over the phone to make sure you are either the right candidate for the clinic or if you would be better suited for the presentation.
For more information or to register for the presentation call 604-587-7866 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.