- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.
The 89-year-old Oscar winner fell in her home in Geneva, Switzerland, on Sunday and suffered a broken hip. Her spokesperson told Reuters the surgery "went well and now she needs to rest and everything will be resolved."
The BBC also added she "sustained several 'serious fractures' to different parts of her hip and femur," and that "both Loren's sons, Carlo and Edoardo Ponti, were at her bedside."
After Loren made headlines, safety for seniors and injury prevention is top-of-mind, especially in Canada where falls are the top cause of injury-related deaths among older adults.
How often to Canadian seniors fall and who is at risk?
According to Public Health, about 20 to 30 per cent of seniors fall at least once each year in Canada.
Furthermore, falls account for 85 per cent of seniors' injury-related hospitalizations, and 95 per cent of all hip fractures in the country.
Public Health also notes the average senior is hospitalized for about 10 days longer for falls than any other cause, and even one-third of seniors are admitted to long-term care following that hospitalization.
"Falls can result in chronic pain, reduced mobility, loss of independence and even death," the federal agency warned.
People who are at high risk of falling, as measured by the American and British Geriatrics Societies, are those who have:
Had two or more falls within the last 12 months
Sought medical attention within 48 hours of an injury following a fall
Had difficulty with walking or balance
Why are falls so dangerous for seniors?
The U.S. Centre for Disease Control estimates one out of five falls does cause a serious injury in seniors.
"These injuries can make it hard for a person to get around, do everyday activities, or live on their own," it said.
Common injuries include:
Broken bones, especially wrist, arm, ankle, and hip fractures
Head injuries, which "can be very serious," especially to those taking blood thinners
Developing a fear of falling, leading to less activity is also a harmful impact.
What causes seniors to fall?
Falls are the number one cause of injury-related deaths, hospitalizations and ER visits in Canadian seniors, according to injury prevention agency Parachute. In 2018, falls among older adults cost the healthcare system $5.6 billion – "nearly 20 per cent of the total cost of injury in Canada."
But what causes falling? The U.S. National Institute on Aging says many things, including:
Eyesight, hearing, and reflex problems
Diabetes, heart disease, or problems with thyroid, nerves, feet, or blood vessels that impact balance
Conditions that cause rushed movement to the bathroom, such as incontinence
Mild cognitive impairment or certain types of dementia
Age-related loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia), problems with balance and gait, or postural hypotension
Foot problems that cause pain, and unsafe footwear such as backless shoes or high heels
Medications with side effects such as dizziness or confusion
Safety hazards in the home or community environment
How can the elderly prevent falling?
According to Parachute, a fall can have "a devastating and lasting impact on a person," as it can lead to a reduced quality of life — even without injury. "A fall can cause an older adult to lose confidence and reduce their activities," the research agency explained.
There are steps Canadians can take to prevent falling, outside and inside of the home.
Exercise: challenging your balance and building strength
Getting enough sleep
Taking your time — don't rush
Good nutrition and hydration
Getting your sight and hearing checked regularly
Managing medications and reviewing them regularly with your pharmacist or doctor
Wearing well-fitting, sturdy shoes
Considering using a cane or other mobility device if needed
Maintaining proper use of eyeglasses and hearing aids
Inside the home, there are certain environmental factors that can be changed to help prevent a fall. Those include, according to Parachute:
Proper lighting in hallways, stairs and walkways, the bedroom and bathrooms
Keeping stairs free of clutter, and exterior stairs and walkways free of clutter, ice or snow
Installing handrails along stairs and safety grab bars in the bathroom
Checking your home for slipping and tripping hazards, and using non-slip mats
Having regularly used items within reach
Finding Balance also has resources available to caregivers of seniors who might be at risk, on how to help prevent falling and injury.