Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Ho, Ho, Hooray it is over and hello 2015!

Courtnay Epp
Courtnay Epp, Fort Macleod Health Centre

Are you glad all the Christmas crazy is over? Surprisingly, some people are. The holiday season is supposed to be filled with happiness and joy, when people are surrounded by an abundance of loving family and friends. This paints a wonderful picture, but for many seniors it is far cry from reality. In fact, feelings of sadness, loneliness and isolation are their holiday companions. Whether they are widowed, have lost close friends over the years, or are suffering from ill health, seniors may not feel as joyous as one might think at such a cheery time of year.

So if you are a senior, and are looking for a fresh start in 2015, why not resolve to make this year better than the last. You are never too old to plan or make goals about your health, wealth, or social life. You may want to focus on getting your finances in order or volunteering more of your time in the community, but often for the young and old, New Year’s resolutions focus on your health. So where to begin?

How about being proactive about your life and choosing something specific like preventing a fall? Anyone can fall, but as you get older the risk of falling increases. Falls are the leading cause of serious injury in older adults and about one in three people over the age of 65 will fall at least once a year. The number of single falls per year increases to one out of two for people over the age of 80 and if you fall once, you are twice as likely to fall again. Women are three times more likely than men to be hospitalized for a fall-related injury. However, men are more likely than women to experience fatal falls. It is clear that falls can have devastating consequences and significantly affect one’s quality of life, so why not take action and prevent it from happening to you!

With the help of the province-wide Finding Balance campaign- which focuses on reducing the number of falls among Alberta seniors- you can learn real-life strategies that can reduce your risk of falling. These strategies include Checking Your Medications, Speaking Up About Dizziness, Watching Your Step, and Keeping Active.

The start of a new year is a great time to have your doctor or pharmacist review all your medications. As you age, the way some medications affect you can change and increase your risk of falling. Feeling dizzy? If so, it is time to speak up! Tell your doctor if you often feel dizzy or lightheaded. There are many different causes of dizziness, and being dizzy can contribute to a fall. Watch your step- wherever you are. This includes inside and outside of your home. Hazards can be anywhere, so pay attention and have your eyes checked every year. Finally, start or continue being active. Regular physical activity and exercise can increase muscle strength, improve balance, and help prevent you from falling. For more information on these strategies, visit Good luck with your resolutions and have a happy and healthy New Year!

Courtnay Epp is a health promotion facilitator at Population Health at the Fort Macleod Health Centre. She can be reached at 403-553-5310 Ext. 2367 or

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