July 15, 2019  — 

It doesn’t take much — a missed step, an out-of-place rug or an item left on the floor can cause a nasty fall. And fall injuries send thousands of Canadians to the hospital each year. Earlier this month, we released our latest Injury and Trauma Quick Stats, which explore causes of injury-related hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

Seniors account for half of injury-related hospitalizations

Last year, seniors accounted for more than half of all injury-related hospitalizations among Canadians. Women made up almost two-thirds of seniors’ hospitalizations.

Our data shows that 4 out of 5 injury hospitalizations involving seniors were due to falls. Over the past 3 years, injury hospitalizations among seniors due to falls increased by 9%, or about 8,900 people, the largest increase among hospitalizations for seniors.

Falls prevention

Geoff Fernie, Senior Scientist and falls prevention expert at the University Health Network and the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, provides 2 practical ways for seniors to prevent falls:

  1. Wear safe footwear indoors and outdoors to reduce slips.
  2. Install easily graspable handrails on both sides of your stairs and outdoor steps at home — and use them.

Mr. Fernie recommends that seniors change into running shoes after arriving home — rather than walking around in socks or bare feet — to help reduce the risk of slipping. He also suggests buying new winter boots every year and following recommendations to ensure that the treads have maximum slip-resistance External link, opens in new window and are not worn out.

He encourages seniors to use handrails and grab bars in public spaces and to carry a little bottle of hand hygiene gel to use afterward.

Parachute Canada also offers tips for preventing falls and other preventable injuries External link, opens in new window. Best practices include having non-slip surfaces in the tub and shower and asking for help with tasks that can’t be done safely alone.

Other causes of injury and trauma

While slips and falls were to blame for the majority of injury hospitalizations, there are many other causes. The top 5 in our data are

  1. Falls
  2. Vehicle collisions
  3. Accidental poisoning
  4. Attempted suicide and self-inflicted injury
  5. Collided with or hit by people or objects