Gary Fleischauer fell off a ladder recently

Campaign aims to prevent falls

Gary Fleischauer used to clean the gutters of his home and put up Christmas lights annually.

Gary Fleischauer used to clean the gutters of his home and put up Christmas lights annually.

The 71-year-old Victoria resident is used to climbing on his ladder to do yard work and taking care of the home he’s lived in for the past 40 years.

But roughly two weeks ago, while he was putting a tarp over the roof of his home to protect it from the heavy rain and wind, he slipped and fell 16 feet, landing on the concrete.

“I had the ladder properly positioned but for some reason, all of a sudden it rotated and dumped me off,” Fleischauer said, noting he fell onto his ankle and then his hip. “My eye sight went all blurry as a result of the shock.”

A neighbour who witnessed the accident called an ambulance and he was rushed to Victoria General Hospital.

Fleischauer broke his pelvis and had to have surgery. It’s a week later and he is still recovering.

“You’re just in so much pain and you’re totally debilitated. You’re bed-ridden,” he said, adding he won’t be able to put weight on his left leg for six weeks.

Every 10 minutes a senior will fall in B.C. This month, Island Health is kicking off a month-long public awareness campaign about preventing falls in the community.

Heather Fudge, clinical nurse specialist in seniors health for Island Health, said if seniors (aged 80 or older) fall, they could be in the hospital roughly two-and-a-half times longer than an adult.

“There are many things that we can’t control as we get older in terms of health and what effects us, but falls are 99.9 per cent preventable,” she said.“They can really change someone’s life not for the better.”

In 2014/15, 3,300 seniors (aged 65 and older) were hospitalized due to fall-related injures.

Fudge said there are a number of minor things seniors can do to prevent falls and subsequent injuries such as keeping active to keep muscles strong, cleaning up tripping hazards, getting eyes checked and wearing glasses or hearing aids when applicable, and having doctors review medications annually to ensure you’re only taking the required medications.

“As we get older, there’s most risk of falling and the effects are more devastating because we’re not as resilient as we were when you were younger,” she said, noting 70 per cent of residents in care homes are there because of a fall.

For more information on how to prevent falls visit findingbalance.ca.

 

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