Every year, cities across the country find ways to commemorate Canada Health Promotion Days, and National Injury Prevention day is no exception. This July 5th, injury prevention will be in the air as notable landmarks across many cities are lit in bright green to show their commitment to this important cause. Year after year, Canadian hospitals were reporting significant increases in the number of patients that are met in emergency rooms due to accidents or injuries that doctors believed were preventable injuries. Between 2003 and 2008, injuries due to falls among Canadians 65+ rose 43% and deaths due to falls rose 65%. It became increasingly clear that more awareness around injury prevention was necessary, and for the last five years Injury Prevention Day in Canada’s focus around education and resources on ways to prevent injuries has been unwavering. The Division of Aging and Seniors is committed to decreasing hospital visits and injuries through various public education initiatives, by developing policy around injury prevention, and through community based programming that focusses on ways to prevent injuries and teaches Canadians 65+ how to avoid injury in their day to day lives.
National Injury Prevention Day Canada serves as a reminder to Canadians of all ages that small changes, and a little added caution could be the difference between a great day and an unexpected trip to a hospital.
Significance of National Injury Prevention Day – The Numbers Speak for Themselves
Injury prevention might seem like something we all do, all the time. We go about our day trying to stay out of harm’s way, and we tend to have good measures in place that help us avoid injury every day. It is true that we all want safety for ourselves and our loved ones, but the reality is accidents and injuries tend happen when we least expect them to, despite how cautious we may think we’re being. For Canadians 65+, a fall could result in chronic pain and reduced mobility and independence. We’ve also learned that falls:
- Are the cause of 95% of all hip fractures for Canadians 65+
- Represent 85% of all injury related hospital visits for Canadians 65+
- Are commonly experienced right at home, with 50% of all falls happening in the residence.
We’ve also learned that a conversation around injury prevention wouldn’t be entirely considered if we left out road safety. Canada’s infrastructure can boast nearly 900,000kms worth of roads to drive on—that’s more than two round trips to the moon! While this makes for world class scenic drives through the Rockies or along the Great Lakes, it also leaves a lot of room for unexpected injury in vehicle collision and other road accidents. With COVID19 restricting air travel, last summer nearly half of Canadians planned a road trip, and Canadian roads are expected to be busier than ever for the second summer in a row. This is why conversations around road safety are not only necessary but they’re timely. Here’s what we know:
- Drowsiness accounts for 21% of all motor vehicle accidents in Canada
- You are 23 times more likely to be in a collision if you are texting and driving and 3 out of four Canadians admit that they text and drive.
- 55% of deaths due to collision included at least one driver with alcohol or drugs in their system.
Injury Prevention Tips for Retirees
National Injury Prevention Day in Canada reminds us that a few small considerations in our day to day lives can really help us to avoid injury. Injury prevention doesn’t have to mean a big overhaul in the way you enjoy your day—in fact there are many ways to prevent injuries that can happen with a few small adjustments. While injury prevention day takes place in July, these tips to avoid injury can help Canadians 55+ stay safe every day:
What is your reality? We know that falls can happen and that there are some key contributors that lead to injury for many retirees. Typically, injury prevention for Canadians 55+ would have you take a look at these five categories, and determine whether you experience any of them:
Your gait, balance, stability: It is perfectly normal for you to experience some imbalance as you age. Getting to know your body is one of the simplest ways to prevent injuries. If you’re not sure whether you have strong balance, there are a couple of quick assessments that you can do right at home. One of the most commonly used assessments is called the Timed Up and Go (TUG), and all you need is a chair and a stopwatch to complete this. With the same two tools, you can also try the 30-Second Chair Stand test which helps you assess your balance and lower body strength. If you find yourself struggling to complete these assessments, or you’re not sure how to complete them, a quick doctor’s visit will surely help you on your journey towards injury prevention.
Your vision: A change in vision is also common throughout our lifetime, and it’s important to stay on top of our eye health as we explore ways to prevent injuries. A trip to your eye doctor will help you avoid injury as you walk through your space and especially as you drive.
Your Health: If you have a chronic illness like arthritis, diabetes, or have experienced a stroke, you’re a little more vulnerable to injury. If this is your experience, keeping your doctor informed of any changes to your symptoms is key to injury prevention.
Your Medication: Whether you are taking medication regularly or every once in a while, it is important to make note of the side effects that might be experienced as a result. Certain medications can make you feel dizzy or drowsy so an easy injury prevention action would be to avoid operating a vehicle or participating in rigorous activity while you are on that medication.
Your surroundings: Now that you’ve evaluated your balance, your eye health, and your physical health needs, it’s time to take a look into your living space to make sure that it suits your needs in the safest, injury prevention ways. Injury prevention day encourages you to look around your space and ask yourself if your home is helping you avoid injury. Do you have too many steps or steep stairs in your home? Does your driveway or front porch get icy in the winter? Do you risk slipping because your bathtub has a high ledge? If one of the ways to prevent injury in your home requires you to make some changes, you can find homecare services across Canada by visiting your provincial website, speaking to an occupational therapist, or reaching out to your community information line. You’ve worked hard to care for yourself and your home, national injury prevention month wants to make sure your space is taking care of you. This checklist is a really good resource to keep with you as your needs change!
Buckle up, we’re going for a drive! When it’s time to hit the road, national injury prevention month encourages everyone to be injury prevention focused every single time we get into a vehicle. Seatbelts for all passengers, abiding by speed limits, and eliminating distractions are the most important and effective ways to avoid injury when you’re in a car. Here are some other things to keep in mind:
Before you drive: Assess how you feel. If you’re feeling tired, drowsy, dizzy, or have a distracting symptom like a constant cough or itchy eyes due to allergies, it may be best to wait a bit or let someone else do the driving. You can also assess the time of day, and make sure your vision is strong for night driving before you get behind the wheel. One of the most important ways to prevent injury to yourself and others is to ensure you are not impaired in any way if you know you have to drive home.
While you drive: One thing is true, Canadian drivers 55+ are of the most experienced drivers on the road. Be confident in your ability to navigate the road and avoid aggressive drivers who aren’t making the safest choices. Injury prevention requires focus—try not to tune your radio, fiddle with a navigation system, use your phone, or have the visor mirror in view while you’re driving. Canada health promotion days are intended to keep Canadians safe, healthy, and informed. Being mindful of the road every time you are on it is a great way to observe national injury prevention day, and every day.
The Importance of On-Time Health Consultation and Treatment
National Injury Prevention Day is especially important because it encourages us to prioritize our own safety, and the safety of others. Sometimes, despite every effort, injuries still happen. Believe it or not you can avoid injury in the future if you address an existing incident or injury right away. Whether it’s a small slip, a fender bender, or something a little more serious, involving your doctor as quickly as possible to assess the impact will help you stay strong for years to come. Sometimes an injury isn’t felt until several days after an incident occurs. Listen to your body and allow your doctor to reassess you and take note of any discomfort you may be experiencing—even it its been a little while since the injury happened. Your doctor or physiotherapist will be sure to give you the right stretches and exercises that will reinforce and strengthen the injured area, to avoid injury in the future.
Canada health promotion days help us by shining a light on the importance of self care in achieving and living a long healthy life. Staying active is a really great way to invest in yourself and to keep your body nice and strong. Injury prevention can be a series of right choices throughout your day that eventually become habitual. Take a look at the home checklist today and consider making changes that might help you avoid injury at home. Injury prevention is a commitment you make to yourself, your loved ones, and your community to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Helping You Set up Your Home to Prevent Injuries
If you need to make upgrades to your home in order to prevent injuries and falls and keep your home safe, we’re here to help you with the financing. If you’re a Canadian homeowner aged 55+, with a CHIP Reverse Mortgage you can access up to 55% of the appraised value of your home’s equity in tax-free cash, with no monthly loan repayments. You only have to pay back what you owe when your move or sell your home.
Call us at 1-866-522-2447 to find out how much tax-free cash you qualify for with a CHIP Reverse Mortgage so you can keep your home safe and make upgrades to prevent injuries and falls.