| Feb 26, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - February 26, 2009 Falls Prevention Program recruiting volunteersBy Julie Druker First the bad news: in a single year one in every three people over the age of 65 will have a fall, making falls the second leading cause of hospital admissions in Ontario. Falls rob older adults of their health and independence.

The good news: most falls are preventable.

The KFL&A Public Health created the Falls Prevention Ambassador Program in 2005 to provide education to community groups about falls prevention.

Trained volunteers set up displays and give presentations, providing groups with the information they need to avoid falls.

Rhonda Lovell, a public health nurse and Chair of the KFL&A Falls Prevention Coalition, is hoping to recruit new volunteers to the program, especially in this area. She explained, “It’s a challenge to reach the entire region and we’d love to see more potential volunteers from this area.”

While the program so far has reached over 3000 people since 2005, Lovell is encouraging people to volunteer so that they can serve seniors in their own communities.

Volunteers go through an orientation and training period and receive ongoing support. They are provided with the most current information. Networking meetings are held 5 times per year to connect staff with other volunteers. The benefits for volunteers are many: contributing to the well being of others, and opportunities to network, make new friends, gain confidence and knowledge.

Lovell explained, “It’s not rocket science. While there are 400 risk factors that can lead to falls there are about half a dozen key factors that are the leading causes.”

These include lack of physical activity, unsafe footwear, medication issues, vision and hearing difficulties, balance or gait problems and environmental hazards.

A 2007 Ipsos-Reid survey of Canadian women and men aged 65-85 showed that while 9 in 10 have prepared a will, less than half have taken the necessary steps to live independently as they age.

Lovell also pointed out that awareness is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. “By not discussing the issues seniors are not getting the help that they need so it is important that we get this information out there.”

Taking simple preventative measures like maintaining overall health or installing a grab bar in a bathroom can mean the difference of suffering a fall or not.

Lovell stressed the importance of common sense and summed it by stating, “Where you put your feet is certainly going to determine whether you stay on them.”

Anyone interested in booking a presentation for a group or becoming an ambassador with the program can contact Rhonda Lovell at 613 549-1232 ext. 1181. The deadline for applications to volunteer for the program is March 6, 2009. 

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