Safety and Fall Prevention for Older Adults

If you or someone you know has fallen, you're not alone.

 Falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults in Canada:

  • One in four people aged 65 years or older fall at least once each year
  • 95% of all hip fractures are due to a fall
  • 50% of all falls causing hospitalization happen at home

 In Ottawa (2015):

  • Over 2000 fall related hospitalizations for people aged 65+
  • 8200 fall related visits to emergency department for 65+
  • Over 90 deaths each year related to falls for 65+,

Anyone can fall. But as we grow older, our bodies change in ways that can increase our risk of falling. The good news is that most falls are preventable.

Preventing a fall is one of the most important things you can do to stay independent as you get older.

Take care of your health

Woman speaking with doctor

You can prevent falls by taking care of your health. The first step to avoiding falls is to understand what causes them. For example, reduced vision or hearing as well as poorly fitting footwear are just a few causes of falls.

 Eyesight
There may be changes to your eyesight that can affect your balance.

Some changes that you may notice:

  • More sensitivity to glare
  • Harder to see where an object ends and the background begins
  • Extra time needed to adjust to sudden changes in light and dark
  • Harder to judge distance and depth
  • Watery eyes or burning/stinging dry eyes
  • Losing your balance or getting dizzy when other people or objects are moving around you

 What you can do

  • Have an eye exam every year and when you notice any changes in your vision
  • Keep your home well lit, especially entrances and stairways
  • Use night lights, especially in the path from the bedroom to the bathroom
  • Give your eyes time to adjust when you move from dark to much brighter areas
  • Protect your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses
  • Take breaks from looking at one thing, like a computer screen, to reduce the risk of eye strain
Mark the edge of stirs with coloured paint or treads
 Look after your feet
Feet that are healthy and pain-free can help you stay active and independent.

What you can do

Foot care

  • See a health care provider about foot problems and foot pain.
  • Check your feet every day for corns, open sores, redness, dry skin and thickened nails.
  • Wash your feet in warm, not hot water.
  • Dry your feet completely after washing, especially between your toes.
  • Trim your toenails straight across and not too short.

 Footwear

  • Choose flat shoes that have low, wide heels and soles that grip.
  • Avoid walking in bare feet, stocking feet or slip on shoes with an open heel
  • Wear supportive shoes inside your home.
 Hearing
 Hearing loss can affect your balance.

Here are some signs to watch for:

  • Difficulty hearing others speak
  • Frequently asking people to repeat themselves
  • Frustration at not being able to hear
  • Problems hearing in noisy areas
  • More difficulty understanding people with higher-pitched voices
  • Ringing in the ears

 What you can do

  • Have your hearing checked at least every year
  • Talk to your health care provider about any changes in your hearing.
  • Protect your ears from loud sounds
  • Think about using devices that can help you hear and communicate more easily, such as a hearing aid or a telephone amplifier.
  • Ask others to speak clearly and face you when speaking
Use medication Wisely

Worman reviewing medications with a pharmacist

 Taking three or more medications a day can increase your risk of falling.

Common medications that can affect your balance include those for

  • Sleep, anxiety and depression
  • Heart and blood pressure
  • Dementia symptoms
  • Arthritis and pain
  • Bladder control
  • Digestive, stomach and nausea
  • Colds, flu and allergies

What you can do

  • Have a medication review with your pharmacist every year
  • Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist about possible side effects of prescription, over the counter or natural health products
  • Read directions carefully so you're aware of potential reactions with other medications
  • Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist if you experience drowsiness, dizziness, unsteadiness or blurred vision.
  • Keep an up-to-date list of all your prescription and non-prescription medicines. Take this list to all your medical appointments.
  • Ask your pharmacist about easy ways to organize your medications.
  • Take your expired or unused medications to your pharmacy for safe disposal.
Use Safety Aids

Woman walking with walker in park

Safety aids can make your everyday life easier. It is important to use aids that meet your needs and fit you correctly. Your health care provider can help you choose the right equipment.

 Canes and walkers
  • A cane can improve your balance as you walk or help you with an injury or disability
  • Make sure it is the correct height and you know how to use it properly. 
  • Make sure the rubber tips and treads on your cane or walker wheels are not cracked or worn down.
  • In the winter, use an ice tip on the end of your cane. Remember to flip it up when you go indoors.
 Bathroom aids 
  • Make you have non-slip surfaces for the tub and shower
  • Non-slip mats, bath seats, and grab bars can help in the tub and shower.
  • Hand-held shower heads can make showering easier, especially if you're using a bath seat.
  • Walk-in tubs and devices that slowly lower you into the tub are also available
 Personal Emergency Response Systems
  •  Personal Emergency Response Systems can help you and your family feel more secure about living alone.
  • A personal emergency response system can help you maintain your independence in and around your home.
 Other safety aids
  • Find out about other devices that can make your life safer: reachers or grabbers, ice grippers, large-handle utensils, pot/bowl stabilizers, first aid kits, etc. 
Home Safety

Woman placing bath mat in tub 

Throughout your home make sure that:

  • Floors are not slippery.
  • Pathways are clear of extension cords and other objects.
  • Rugs have no ripples or tears.
  • Scatter mats are removed or taped to the floor.
  • All furniture is sturdy and chairs have armrests.
  • All light fixtures have a minimum of 60 watt bulbs.
  • Entrance to every room has a light switch.

Items used every day are stored within easy reach

Bathroom
  •  Make sure you have non-slip surfaces for the tub and shower
  • Install well-anchored grab bars by the toilet and bath to help you sit and stand
  • Use a raised toilet seat, and a bath seat in the shower, if you need them
  • Keep the floor clear of water or obstacles.
  • Use a bathmat with a rubber backing after every bath or shower
  • Avoid bath oil.
 Bedroom
  •  Install good lighting and nightlights
  • Make sure your telephone and lamp are easy to reach
  • When getting up at night, turn on a light
  • To prevent dizziness, get up slowly after lying or sitting
  • Keep the path clear between the bedroom and bathroom
 Stairs
  •  Make sure stairs are well lit
  • Stairs have a non-slip surface.
  • Install solid handrails on both sides of the stairway
  • Remove your reading glasses when you go up and down the stairs
  • Never rush up or down the stairs. It's a major cause of falls
 Kitchen
  •  Store kitchen supplies and pots and pans in easy to reach locations
  • Store heavy items in lower cupboards
  • Keep the floor dry and free of spills to prevent slipping
  • If you use floor wax, use the non-skid kind.
Stay safe in winter

Man and woman sitting on a bench in winter

Regular physical activity is important for healthy aging. But winter can be a difficult time to go outside and be active. A fall on hard packed snow or ice can have a lasting effect on your health and independence. 

Here are some practical tips to help you stay safe and active in winter.

  • Choose boots with a wide low heel and a non slip sole
  • If using a cane, attach a retractable ice pick to the end. Remember to flip it up when you go indoors.
  • Consider using ice grippers on your boots. Make sure to remove them when indoors.

Keep walkways clear

  • Carry a small bag of grit, sand or non-clumping cat litter in your pocket and sprinkle it on icy sidewalks, steps or bus stops. Fill your bag at City of Ottawa yellow grit boxes. 
  • Keep entrance ways, walkways, stairs and driveways clear of ice and snow.
If you have a fall

Person reaching out for another's hand

 Anyone can fall. But as you age, your risk of falling becomes greater

 Have an emergency plan
  •  Keep a list of the phone numbers of family or friends near the phone.
  • Have a plan so that your family or friends can enter your home in case of emergency
  • Consider getting a personal emergency response system in case of emergency.
 If you fall when you are alone
  •  Stay calm
  • Don't rush to get up.
  • Make sure you are not injured before trying to get up or letting others help you get up
 If you can get up
  • Stay calm
  • Roll onto your side.
  • Rest while your body and blood pressure adjust.
  • Slowly get onto your hands and knees, and crawl to a sturdy chair.
  • Put your hands on the chair seat and slide one foot forward so that it is flat on the floor. Keep the other leg bent so the knee is on the floor.
  • From this kneeling position, slowly rise and turn your body to sit in the chair.
Rest for a while before standing up
 If you need help to get up
  • Stay calm
  • Try to get help by making a loud noise, calling out for help or crawling to the telephone and dialing 911.
  • Use your personal emergency response system if you have one
 After any fall... 
  •  Talk with your health care provider about the fall, even if you did not hurt yourself. It is important to determine the cause of your fall and to help prevent another fall.
  • For extra protection, consider the use of a personal emergency response system.
  • Don't let the fear of falling again prevent you from being active. Inactivity creates an even greater risk of falling.
Be Active

Man at tennis court

  • Engage in 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every week. It's your best defence against falls
  • Add strength and balance activities like lifting weights and Tai Chi, at least two days per week.
  • Consult your doctor before you start an exercise program
Eat Well

Man grocery shopping

Enjoy a variety of nutritious foods

  • Include milk and alternatives, meat and alternatives, grains, as well as lots of vegetables and fruits
  • Don't skip meals. It can cause weakness and dizziness
  • Drink water regularly to prevent dehydration and dizziness
  • Eat at least three servings of calcium rich food daily and talk to your health care provider about taking a vitamin D supplement to keep your  bones strong.
Keeping your bones healthy

Calcium and vitamin D are good for your bones and more...

  • Calcium helps your heart, muscles and nerves work properly.
  • Your body needs vitamin D to absorb and use calcium.

Get your calcium from food

  • Try to eat at least 3 servings of foods high in calcium every day.
  • Calcium is more enjoyable and more easily absorbed from food than from a supplement (pill).
  • You may need a supplement if you do not eat at least 3 servings of foods high in calcium a day.
  • Talk to your health care provider before taking a calcium supplement. It should not be taken with certain medications. Getting too much calcium can cause health problems like constipation and kidney stones.

Take a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU every day, if you are over 50

  • You also need to eat foods that contain vitamin D.
  • Vitamin D is not naturally found in many foods but it is in fatty fish, egg yolk and liver. That's why vitamin D is added to some foods like cow's milk, some orange juice, soy, almond or rice beverages, and margarine.
  • If you don't eat enough good quality sources of vitamin D, you may need a stronger supplement. Talk to your health care provider about it.

Something you can do...

  • Read labels to find good sources of calcium and vitamin D.
  • Add skim milk powder or evaporated milk to your recipes.
  • Try margarine on your toast and in recipes for added vitamin D.
  • Replace a coffee or tea with a latte or hot chocolate for extra calcium and vitamin D. 

Print version [167 KB]

Mission Healthy Bones!

Calcium and vitamin D are important for strong bones and teeth!

How much do you need?

Age
(years)

Calcium
(mg per day)

Vitamin D
(IU per day)

51 to 70

1200

600

71 and +

1200

800

51 to 70

1000

600

71 and +

1200

800

How do you do this?

  • Try to get at least 3 good sources of calcium and vitamin D rich foods each day.
  • Check the list below for good sources of calcium and vitamin D.
  • Complete your diet by taking a daily 400 IU vitamin D supplement.
  • Talk to your health care provider about supplementation if you think your diet may not be rich enough in calcium and/or vitamin D.

Grain products

  • Usually not a great source of vitamin D. 
  • Cereals eaten with milk or fortified beverage will have extra calcium and 
    vitamin D.
  • A few cereals are now enriched with vitamin D, so check the label.
  • Using margarine with a grain product will increase vitamin D.
Food ItemCalcium (mg)Vitamin D (IU)
Some vitamin D fortified cereals - 1 serving with 125 mL (1/2 cup)  1%  milk 160-350 100
Breakfast cereals - 1 serving with 125 mL (1/2 cup)  1% milk 160-350 50
Whole wheat toast - 2 slices 90 0
With margarine - 5 mL (1 tsp) 90 25
With butter - 5 mL (1 tsp) 90 1

Milk and alternatives

  • All cow's milk is fortified with vitamin D and is a natural source of calcium. 
    Some beverages (soy, almond, rice) can be fortified with calcium and vitamin D.  Check the label.
  • Foods made with cow's milk may not be fortified with vitamin D (yogurt, cheese, buttermilk).  Check the label. 
Food ItemCalcium (mg)Vitamin D (IU)
Evaporated skim milk-reconstituted - 250 mL (1 cup) 392 116
1% milk (cow)- white or chocolate - 250 mL (1 cup) 320 100
Skim milk powder - 25 g ( 1/3 cup) will make 250 mL (1 cup) of milk 320 100
Eggnog - 250 mL (1 cup) 350 44
Fortified soy, almond or rice beverages - 250 mL (1 cup) 320 90
Yogurt, fortified - 175 mL (¾ cup) 300 80
Cheese - firm (Cheddar, Swiss, Gouda) - 25 g (2.5 oz) 360 3
Kefir - 175 mL (3/4 cup) 187 8

Vegetables and fruit

  • Most vegetables and fruits are not a significant source of calcium and vitamin D unless fortified.
  • A few exceptions are listed below.
Food ItemCalcium (mg)Vitamin D (IU)
Fortified orange juice - 125 mL  (½ cup) 155 50
Collards- frozen and cooked - 125 mL (1/2 cup) 189 0
Spinach- frozen and cooked -125 mL (1/2 cup) 154 0

Meat and alternatives

  • The more fatty the fish, the more vitamin D you get. 
  • Canned fish with bones adds extra calcium, as long as you eat the bones! 
Food ItemCalcium (mg)Vitamin D (IU)
Salmon - canned with bones - 75 g (2.5 oz) 179 200-699*
Salmon - baked, grilled, pan fried - 75 g (2.5 oz) 5 200-699*
Mackerel - canned - 75 g (2.5 oz) 181 218
Sardines - canned with oil -75 g (2.5 oz) 286 70
Herring pickled - 75 g (2.5 oz) 60 200
Herring - Atlantic, cooked - 75 g (2.5 oz) 56 160
Trout - baked, grilled, pan fried - 75 g (2.5 oz) 41 150
Whitefish, lake - cooked - 75 g (2.5 oz) 12 135
Eggs yolks - 2 44 32
Light tuna - canned tuna - 75 g (2.5 oz) 8 40
Beef liver - pan fried - 75 g (2.5 oz) 4 36
Almonds - 60 mL (¼ cup ) 99 0
Almond butter - 30 mL (2 tbsp) 90 0
Baked beans - canned-185 mL (¾ cup) 64 0

*Amount of vitamin D varies with the type of salmon. Sockeye has the most.

Miscellaneous (mixed ingredients)

  • Adding calcium and vitamin D rich ingredients to your favorite food is a great way to get more of these nutrients! 
Food ItemCalcium (mg)Vitamin D (IU)
Fruit smoothie - made with 125 mL (½ cup) of milk,  125 mL fortified orange juice and 125 mL yogurt) 500 140
Grilled cheese sandwich 434 35
Instant breakfast - 250 mL (1 cup) made with milk or fortified beverage 363 90
Café Latte, made with 250 mL (1 cup) milk 320 100
Black coffee or tea 0 0
Salmon salad sandwich 220 150
Prepared canned tomato soup (with milk) - 250 mL (1 cup) 200 50
Pudding made with milk or fortified beverage - 125 mL (1/2 cup) 141 52
Blackstrap molasses - 15 mL (1 tbsp) 180 0
Margarine - 5 mL (1 tsp) 1 25

Reference: Canadian Nutrient File 2010

For more information call 613-580-6744 to speak with our public health staff or e-mail us at healthsante@ottawa.ca

Fruity flax smoothies for two
Download PDF [104 KB]
Serves: 2

 Imperial measurement

Ingredient

Metric measurement

2 tbsp

flax seeds, ground

30 mL

1 cup

fresh or frozen fruit

250 mL

1

fresh or frozen banana

1

1/2 cup

pineapple with juices, optional

125 mL

1 cup

milk or fortified soy or rice milk

250 mL

3/4 cup

low-fat yogurt
ice cubes, optional

175 mL

Instructions:

  • Add all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Pour and enjoy!

Nutrition Information:

Per serving: 300 calories, 5 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 56 mg cholesterol, 110 mg sodium, 56 g carbohydrate, 6 g fibre, 40 g sugars, 10 g protein, 15% DV vitamin A, 70% DV vitamin C, 30% DV calcium, 50% DV vitamin D.

Tofu stir fry for two
Download PDF [111 KB]
Serves: 2

Imperial measurement

Ingredient

Metric measurement

1

package of firm tofu, cubed

1

1 tbsp

low sodium soy sauce

15 mL

1/2 tsp

cornstarch

2 mL

1 tsp

sesame oil (optional)

5 mL

1

garlic clove, minced

1

1/4 tsp

pepper

1 mL

1 tsp

fresh ginger, finely chopped

5 mL

3 cups

vegetables, thinly sliced or chopped

750 mL

1 tbsp

vegetable oil

15 mL

1 cup

whole wheat noodles or brown rice, cooked and hot

250 mL

 Instructions:

  • In small bowl stir together soy sauce, cornstarch, sesame oil (if using), garlic, salt, pepper, ginger. Set aside.
  • Wash and chop or slice all vegetables. Set aside.
  • Heat oil or broth in large skillet or wok. Stir in vegetables that take longer to cook (for example, carrots, celery, onions). Cook and stir over high heat until vegetables begin to soften.
  • Stir in quick cooking vegetables (for example, snow peas, bean sprouts) and tofu. Cook and stir until all vegetables are crisp and tender.
  • Add the reserved soy sauce mixture to the vegetables and stir until the sauce thickens.
  • Spoon mixture over hot cooked brown rice or whole wheat noodles.

Nutrition Information:

Per serving: 490 calories, 18 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 450 mg sodium, 55 g carbohydrate, 7 g fibre, 1 g sugars, 24 g protein, 45% DV vitamin A, 15% DV vitamin C, 35% DV calcium, 0% DV vitamin D.

Adapted from "Pam Cooks - Favourite Recipes from the Trillium Cooking School".

Quick macaroni and cheese
Download PDF [109 KB]
Serves: 3

Metric measurement

Ingredient

Imperial measurement

1 cup

elbow macaroni, uncooked

250 mL

2 tbsp

margarine

30 mL

2 tbsp

flour

30 mL

1/4 tsp

dry mustard

1 mL

1 cup

milk

250 mL

1 cup

grated cheddar cheese

250 mL

dash

pepper

dash 

Instructions:

  • Cook macaroni in boiling water for 10 minutes, stirring several times. Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, melt margarine in a medium saucepan. Stir in flour and mustard. Add milk slowly, stirring all the time. Cook and stir until mixture boils and thickens.
  • Turn stove to low heat. Add cheese and stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth.
  • Add drained macaroni. Mix gently. Stir over low heat until mixture is hot. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition information:

Per serving: 400 calories, 21 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat, 40 mg cholesterol, 418 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrate, 1 g fibre, 5 g sugars, 15 g protein, 15% DV vitamin A, 0% DV vitamin C, 35% DV calcium, 17% DV vitamin D.

Recipe adapted from The Basic Shelf Cookbook, First Edition 1994 with permission of the Canadian Public Health Agency.

Salmon burgers

Download PDF [132 KB]

Serves: 4

Metric measurement

Ingredient

Imperial measurement

7 1/2 oz

canned salmon, drained and flaked

225 g

3/4 cup

low sodium bread crumbs

175 mL

1/4 cup

celery, finely chopped

60 mL

1 tbsp

onion, finely chopped

15 mL

2 tbsp

milk

30 mL

1

egg

1

1 tbsp

lemon juice

15 mL

1 tbsp

parsley or dill, minced

15 mL

1/4 tsp

salt

1 mL

dash

pepper or paprika

dash

4

whole wheat hamburger buns, split

4

Instructions:

  • Combine all ingredients except buns and topping in bowl. Mix well.
  • Divide mixture into 4 equal portions. Shape each portion into a patty.
  • Cook in non-stick skillet over medium heat until patties are nicely browned and firm to the touch, about 5 minutes per side.
  • Serve in buns, garnished to taste.

Toppings:

Choose from lettuce, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, mayonnaise, etc.

Nutrition Information:

Per serving: 270 calories, 6 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 95 mg cholesterol, 490 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrate, 4 g fibre, 5 g sugars, 20 g protein, 15% DV vitamin A, 3% DV vitamin C, 20% DV calcium, 170% DV vitamin D.

Permission to reproduce this recipe was given by Pam Collacott, Trillium Cooking School 2010.

Cream of cauliflower and parsnip soup
Download PDF [113 KB]
Serves: 4

Imperial measurement

Ingredient

Metric measurement

1

large onion, chopped

1

1 tbsp

margarine

15 mL

2 cups

chicken broth (low sodium)

500 mL

2 cups

water

500 mL

1 large

cauliflower, cut in pieces

1

2

parsnips, peeled and cut

2

1 1/4 cups

milk

300 mL

¼ tsp

nutmeg

2 mL

¼ tsp

black pepper

2 mL

½ cup

cheddar cheese, grated

125 mL

¼ cup

chopped parsley

60 mL

dash

paprika (as garnish)

dash

Instructions:

  • Prepare all ingredients.
  • In a medium saucepan, sauté the onion in margarine until soft.
  • Add broth and water, cauliflower and parsnips. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Remove the soup from the heat and let it cool until it is warm.
  • Transfer the soup to a blender or purée the vegetables in the soup with a hand potato masher until smooth.
  • Adjust seasoning if necessary. You may add milk if soup is too thick.
  • Sprinkle with parsley, a pinch of paprika and top with 2 tbsp of grated cheese.

Nutrition information:

Per serving: 210 calories, 9 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 0.2 g trans fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 680 mg sodium, 25 g carbohydrate, 5 g fibre, 11 g sugars, 11 g protein, 20% DV vitamin A, 100% DV vitamin C, 30% DV calcium, 26% DV vitamin D.

Chocolate pudding
Download PDF [106 KB]
Serves: 4 to 6

Imperial measurement

Ingredient

Metric measurement

1/3 cup (60 g)

semi-sweet chocolate chips

80 mL

1/4 cup

cocoa powder

60 mL

½ cup

sugar

125 mL

3 tbsp

cornstarch

45 mL

2 cups

1% milk

500 mL

2 tsp

vanilla extract

10 mL

pinch

salt

pinch

Instructions:

  • Microwave chocolate chips at low-medium until just melted. Add cocoa powder to melted chocolate and stir to make a paste.
  • In a medium saucepan, add milk and bring to near boiling on medium heat. Reduce heat. Add the chocolate paste to the milk mixture and stir gently to combine.
  • Measure sugar and cornstarch and put into a small bowl. Stir well together. Gradually stir the sugar/cornstarch mixture into the hot chocolate/milk mixture.
  • Cook and stir until thickened (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat.
  • Add vanilla and stir well.
  • Pour into dessert serving dishes and refrigerate about 4 hours before serving.

Nutrition information:

Per serving: 260 calories, 6 g fat, 3.5 g of saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 6 mg cholesterol, 125 mg sodium, 50 mg carbohydrate, 3 g fibre, 40 g sugars, 6 g protein, 4% DV vitamin A, 0% DV vitamin C, 15% DV calcium, 30% DV vitamin D.

Adapted from Chatelaine Magazine Website.

 Resources

 Man looking sitting with laptop

Check your risk for falling

Public health units and agencies within the Champlain Local Health Integration Network have adopted a self-screening tool called "The Staying Independent Checklist". An older adult or their caregiver can complete and identify their risk for having a fall. They are encouraged to discuss their results with their health care provider. 

Check your risk of falling with the Staying Independent Checklist

You CAN prevent falls (PDF)

Taking Care of My Health: Falls Prevention video campaign.

One in four seniors fall each year.  It is estimated that there are 200,000 annual visits to Ottawa emergency rooms related to falls, most of which involve older adults (Burden of Injury, 2010).

  • Most falls are preventable.
  • Ottawa Public Health's "Taking Care of My Health" Falls Prevention video campaign was created to increase public awareness of falls in older adults and encourage healthy and safe behaviours to reduce this risk.

The following videos highlight the importance of:

  • Strength and balance exercises
  • Preventing a fall in your home
  • Reporting a fall to your health care provider
  • Including calcium and vitamin D for strong bones

 

Taking Care of My Health: Falls prevention video campaign

One in four seniors fall each year.  It is estimated that there are 200,000 annual visits to Ottawa emergency rooms related to falls, most of which involve older adults (Burden of Injury, 2010). Most falls are preventable.

Ottawa Public Health's "Taking Care of My Health" Falls Prevention video campaign was created to increase public awareness of falls in older adults and encourage healthy and safe behaviours to reduce this risk.

The following videos identify 4 key behaviours in relation to prevention falls among older adults.

Video 1: Preventing falls is easier than standing on your head

Transcript

Story opens on older gentleman "Bob" doing some light calisthenics at home

NARRATOR (Authentic, Female)       

"Bob keeps himself fit. For flexibility...

...balance...

...and strength...to prevent a fall.  

 As Bob is working through his seniors' calisthenis, he begins to bend lower...lower...(surprisingly) lower. 

"One in four seniors will fall this year.

It's the leading cause of serious injury for older adults."

Bob's hands touch the ground. And then, he does something that surprises the viewer. Bob elevates into a full handstand and headstand. Music hits crescendo. 

"Preventing falls is easier than...standing on your head.

Keep it simple"

 As Bob returns to normal exercises

"Include strength and balance activities in your day"

"A message from Ottawa Public Health."

LOGO

Video 2 : Prevent falls - make your home safe 

Transcript

STORY OPENS IN HALLWAY OF HOME.  OLDER GENTLEMAN "BOB" WALKS THROUGH FRAME AND INTO THE LIVING ROOM. EYE GLASSES ATOP HIS HEAD. 

Story opens in hallway of home. Older gentleman "Bob" walks through the frame and into the living room; eye glasses atop his head.

Begins with quiet ambient orchestral music in the background.

NARRATOR (Authentic, Female)

"The edge of a rug, spilled tea, poor lighting or a cord."

Suddenly, Bob slips (we don't know which is the culprit). At this moment, the video goes into "extreme slow motion". Bob's eye glasses crash into the floor.

The music ramps up orchestral, similar to a song used in and Olympic figure skating routine.

"That's all it takes."

At first, Bob appears to be falling "normally", until he begins to flip/twist in the air (in slow mo) ever so gracefully.

"In fact, falls account for TWENTY THOUSAND visits to local emergency rooms every year - most involving older adults.."

After a gymnastic like rotation in the air, Bob gently touches down on his feet without incident. Camera switchs back to normal speed.

The music turns from optimistic/dramatic to soft and serene.

"If only, falling was so graceful.

(Pause)

Prevent falls - make your home safe.        

A message from Ottawa Public Health."

LOGO 

Video 3 : Eating for healthy bones

Transcript

Opening shot shows a doctor walking through a waiting room. An older patient "Mary" (healthy looking, with good posture) is sitting beside a strong young male patient "Chad" (wearing a sleeveless shirt showing muscles)

Doctor to nurse in exam room. 

"...Let's see Mary's bone density?"

Camera cuts to Mary in the waiting room. She appears confident at what the doctor will see on her x-ray (or dexa bone density x-ray)

Back in the exam room, the doctor is clearly surprised at how strong those bones look on the scan. 

NARRATOR:

"Calcium and vitamin D help build strong bones. And prevent falls."

 Doctor to nurse: 

"...Joan, I think this is...Chad's X-ray??..."

Camera cuts to Chad and then back to the nurse

NURSE'S VOICE:

"...No, that's Mary's!"

Doctor's face looks "impressed". Cuts to Mary looking confident and charming. Animated food icons appear on screen (milk, yogurt, cheese for Calcium; Fish, egg yolk, and vitamin D supplement)

NARRATOR: 

"Eat at least 3 servings of calcium rich food. And, take a vitamin D supplement. Every day."

"For more information, contact Ottawa Public Health."

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Video 4 : Report ALL falls

Transcript

Opening shot shows a doctor's exam room. Older patient "Mary" is sitting on the exam table and a doctor is standing facing her.

DOCTOR:

"...So, have you had a fall since your last visit?" 

Mary shakes her head "No"

DOCTOR:

"...including slips and trips?"

 Mary is pensive, then remembers a series of slips and trips, seen in abstract flashback sequence.

Short sequence of 2 slips/trips (1. trip on stairs clutter, 2. bathtub slip)

Dramatic scene/music abruptly ends. 

 DOCTOR:

"Mary?"

MARY'S VOICE:

"Maybe a few..."

Mary's smile at this point, and the examination continues.

NARRATOR:

"Report ALL falls, and discuss ways to prevent them with your Doctor."

"For more information on falls prevention, contact Ottawa Public Health." 

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