Community Stories:

Penhold - Prevent Falls

Each day in Alberta there are 101 emergency department visits and 27 fall related hospital admissions by older adults. The annual cost the healthcare system is $290 million.

The impact of a fall to a senior is inmeasureable, often resulting in a loss of independence, social isolation, and fear of falling again. The good news is that falls are preventable.

The Plan

The Walk with the Mayors event is an annual campaign organized by the Central Alberta Falls Prevention Coalition (CAFPC). The coalition is comprised of a variety of partners, including Alberta Health Services (AHS) Public Health and Allied Health, the Wolf Creek and Red Deer Primary Care Networks, Golden Circle, City of Red Deer, Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) from Red Deer County, Innisfail, and Sylvan Lake, Lifeline and citizens at large.

This community event is organized to draw attention to the serious issue of older adult falls, as falls are the leading cause of injury among seniors.

The CAFPC spreads prevention awareness at events like “Walk with the Mayors” by using evidence-based and best practice resources developed by Finding Balance Alberta within the Injury Prevention Centre at the University of Alberta.  The CAFPC promotes various resources to all that attend and sends these resource packages back with each Mayor to their respective community. The event promotes active living, healthy eating, physical activity, and highlights community partners who support seniors to live healthy lifestyles in their communities.

The event offers in-person and resource-representation from Health Promotion, Home Care, Nutrition Services, and Allied Health, specifically Recreation Therapy. Health Promotion plays a large part in connecting both internal and external partners. Other members of the coalition provided display information and extended invitations further to additional AHS colleagues. Community partners included: Golden Circle, Lifeline, Innisfail Connects, Town of Penhold, Penhold Library, Red Deer County FCSS, Healthy Aging Alberta, and Safe Communities of Central AB – Central AB Falls Prevention Coalition.

The Outcomes

This year in Penhold, mayors from seven communities attended, from as far away as Sundre. In all, there were about thirty participants, excluding a group of children from the on-site Kings Kingdom preschool. Especially impactful was the resulting cross collaboration among service providers throughout the event. While the event strives to raise awareness of seniors’ falls, actually engaging seniors in the event has been an ongoing challenge. The impacts of falling for seniors go beyond the actual fall itself and could include isolation and fear of falling. To quote 68 year-old Red Deer Mayor, Ken Johnston, the connotation of falling for him has greatly changed from romantically “falling” for someone as a teenager, to the fear of falling as an older adult.

Considering that the event took a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 and limited in-person events, the organizers were pleased with the outcome and look forward to the event next year.

Read more: Central Alberta mayors walk to spread awareness on falls prevention