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globe editorial

Side view of man in wheelchairJupiterimages

Every year, almost 180,000 elderly Canadians are hurt in falls. These injuries often occur in places equated with safety: hospitals, nursing and retirement facilities and even in the senior's own home.

A fall for a senior can mark the beginning of the end. A hip replacement leads to a loss of mobility, which can necessitate an admission to a nursing home. At least, that's what many survivors face. Thousands of seniors die after falls every year.

Though these injuries have been around for decades, they have been dismissed as a rite, however unwelcome, of old age. Society is complacent, possibly because the problem is too complex to solve.

But this modern-day killer harms us all. It costs the health-care system $2.8-billion to treat these injuries each year - money that could be better spent on prevention.

British Columbia is a leader in this area. It has local clinics that help seniors understand their own risks, offers fall-prevention guidelines and has created a culture of preventing the injuries in hospitals and other health-care settings. They are a series of interventions that work: It has seen a decline in fall-related injuries.

Fall prevention is needed in hospitals and even when patients are sent home, where half of all falls occur. Seniors built this country. They deserve our protection now.