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Injury Prevention

Your Health

Take Control of Your Health

Every aspect of healthy aging contributes to your risk for a fall. A fall is often the result of ill health and frailty. Medications, activity level, bone density, and diet all play an important role in our overall health and well-being. Find out what you can do to take control of your health and reduce your risk of a fall.

Alcohol

As people get older their bodies metabolize alcohol differently due to the reduction in body mass and water content.  This makes them more susceptible to the intoxicating effects even with less alcohol.  People consume alcohol for various reasons.  Some people drink on social occasions, some drink to help with emotional or physical pain.

The National Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines provide limits for alcohol consumption in adults and indicate when no alcohol is the safest choice. In 2012, The Society for the Study of Addiction indicates that adults over the age of 65 should limit alcohol consumption to no more than one standard drink a day, with no more than seven per week. 

You may have heard that alcohol provides health benefits; this is true for those over the age of 45 and with less than one standard drink a day. However these benefits are linked with cardiovascular health only. Alcohol, which is also a drug, is a cancer causing agent. If you have a personal or family history of cancer you may want to avoid alcohol altogether.

More on alcohol.

Drugs

Drugs whether prescription or otherwise should be reviewed at least yearly with your health care provider or pharmacist.  It is very important to know about the drugs you are taking.  Ask questions; making a list before your appointment can be helpful.

Find out more about Ontario's MedsCheck program.

For more information on Safer medication use please visit the Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada.

If you suffer with pain and are using or thinking about using opioids or cannabis, you might want to check out some of the information we have on these substances.

Opioids

Cannabis

Remember that the metabolism of those over 65 is altered and they are more susceptible to intoxicating effects with less of the substance.  It is important your health care provider know all of the drugs you are taking.  

Dr. Mike Evans video

If you are struggling with pain, either physically or emotionally there are supports for you.  Pain effects quality of life and can impact mental health and your desire to be active and social.  Poor mental health can intensify pain. Pain is a symptom that needs to be addressed, you can start by talking to someone.

Your Health Care Provider is the first place to start.  It is important that you clearly express the impact your pain is having on your quality of life.

Support Groups - seek out support groups for pain in general or for pain specific to you.  You might be having pain from arthritis, or an injury, or you might have cancer or another illness.  Pain may also be linked to a traumatic event or another emotional incident. Sometimes talking to someone who is going through a similar experience can be of great benefit.

Websites can provide great information, but you need to make sure it is good information and not promoting a product for purchase.

Mental Health 

If you are feeling anxious or depressed please talk to someone.

  • Your Health Care Provider
  • Family or Friends 

Anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns can lead to isolation, limited mobility, pain, increased substance use and a decline in overall health.

Social Connectedness

Take time for friends and family! Research tells us that those who are involved in activities outside the home, have companionship and are physically active, have less falls and suffer fewer serious injuries.

If you have a limited support system and want to get out and meet other people here are some options.

  • Participate in a walking group
  • Join a VON SMART class, Tai Chi, Yoga or other activity
  • Become a member of a seniors center or club
  • Volunteer at the closest school to you
  • Become a friendly visitor for a local support agency

Cognition

Older adults are at a higher risk for a fall if they experience cognitive changes. Changes can be caused by illness or disease, but changes can also be caused by a concussion or other brain injury. If you have noticed changes in your memory, learning or concentration, please talk to your health care provider for an in-depth assessment and possibly a referral to a geriatrician (older adult specialist) or a cognitive specialist. Check out these tips to keep your brain healthy.

 

Regular physical activity is needed for good health. It will increase your strength, balance, flexibility, improve your posture and prevent bone loss.  If pain is stopping you from being active, take a look at the link above.

Household chores, garden work and regular walks are a great start.  If you do these already, try challenging yourself to start a new activity that uses different muscles.

Take a look at the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for ways to get yourself moving and how much time you need to spend doing it. It is NEVER too late to start! Always check with your health care provider before starting a new activity.

For more ways to stay active see the Active Living Coalition for Older Adults website.

Search for local exercise groups on HealthLine North Simcoe Muskoka or Central

Nutrition 

Skipping meals, not eating healthy food and not drinking enough water, can lead to dizziness and other health concerns.

Use Canada’s Food Guide to help you choose healthy foods.  Create your own personal Food Guide to get started.  

Calcium and Vitamin D, along with weight-bearing activity (activities that involve exercise on your feet, with your bones supporting your weight), will help to keep your bones strong!

Use the Calcium Calculator at Osteoporosis Canada to help you identify if you are getting enough calcium. 

To learn more about Healthy Eating as you age, check out EatRight Ontario.

If you are having trouble eating because your mouth is sore or you have issues with your dentures check out the Oral Health section below. 

Oral Health

Oral health is directly linked to your overall health. Your mouth is the gateway for nutrition. Take care of your teeth and gums by getting regular checkups.

Easier said than done; money is often a barrier to good oral health care. 
Please visit the following links for oral health information and financial assistance programs
Georgian College Dental Hygiene Program
Simcoe County Assistance Program
Muskoka McConnell Foundation 
Ontario Dental Association

According to the Canadian Urinary Bladder Survey, 16% of men and 33% of women over the age of 40 have symptoms of urinary incontinence but only 26% have discussed this with their doctor.

Bowel incontinence is much less common. About 1% of people under the age of 65 and 4%–7% of people over 65 have fecal incontinence.

Incontinence is linked with falling for 2 reasons:

Rushing to get to the toilet in time.
Limiting activities outside of the home due to the fear of having an “accident”. 

**Limiting activity leads to isolation and deconditioning of the body and mind.

Check out the The Canadian Continence Foundation for more information 

Check out some treatment options like physiotherapy and speak to your health care provider.

Vision and hearing problems put you at risk for a fall - yearly checkups are recommended.

If you have a visual impairment The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) may be helpful. Eye exams are covered by OHIP annually for seniors. If you require glasses this is at your own expense.

People don’t realize that hearing effects the risk of falling, but your ears are also responsible for spatial orientation and balance.  Even mild hearing loss can triple your risk of having a fall.

Hearing tests are often free, however if you need hearing aids, these are at your own expense. If you have a hearing impairment visit The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) to see what services are available.

Here are some options to seek financial assistance:
Simcoe County Assistance Program
Muskoka McConnell Foundation 
Independent Living Services – Accessibility Resource Centre

It is important to keep your feet in working order! Unhealthy feet are more prone to pain, sores and other problems. Unhealthy feet can also cause pain in the ankles, knees, hips and back. This can cause changes in the way you walk, making you unstable.

Choose footwear that is comfortable and stable.  You want a shoe that has a sturdy sole, wide heel and an enclosed heel back. You should feel confident walking in them as well as climbing stairs.

Check out this Finding Balance page for more information. Also see The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists.

When it comes to winter footwear you may want to check out the Rate My Treads website before you purchase your next pair of boots.  Footwear is rated in a winter lab and is tested for the ability to grasp the ice at different slope heights.  Sadly 81% of footwear tested so far, do not meet minimum standards.

If you are looking for service providers check out foot care providers on HealthLine North Simcoe Muskoka or Central

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