Nfld. & Labrador

Seniors need awareness about risk of falling, prof says

A human kinetics researcher at Memorial University in St. John's is taking action to reduce the number of fall related injuries seniors suffer from.
A MUN professor says seniors need more help in preventing falls, reports Robyn Miller 1:40

A human kinetics researcher at Memorial University in St. John's is taking action to reduce the number of fall related injuries seniors suffer from.

Jeanette Byrne said the research is especially important in Newfoundland and Labrador because this province has the highest, and fastest, aging population in the country.

"80 per cent of seniors who fall and get injured and have to go to hopsital because of that never return to their previous level of independence," said Byrne, an assistant professor at Memorial.

"It's not just the injury itself, it's the effect it has on people's quality of life afterwards."

Byrne, a former physiotherapist, said that Newfoundland and Labrador is lacking when it comes to fall prevention strategies.

Approximately 60 per cent of falls happen inside the home, where seniors least expect it.

"Slip rugs on your floor, getting up to go to the bathroom at night without a night light - little things like that," Byrne said.

"Which, when they were younger, weren't a risk, but now they have become a risk, so a big part of it is educating seniors."

Best way to educate seniors

Byrne's research will look at ways to educate seniors on the dangers of falling, while at the same time measuring people's fall risk.

"We need to get some sense of what seniors views are on their fall risk, on what fall prevention is, and then we can take those and develop a program that seniors are going to be engaged in," she said.

"We can have the best program in the world, and if seniors don't feel the need to engage in it and don't feel its appropriate for them, then it doesn't really matter.