New data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows 81 per cent of all hospital admissions for seniors were caused by falls—and many of those could have been prevented.

David Reid, 67, suffers from a neurological condition and had a fall several years ago. He’s now taking a 12-week Falls Prevention Program at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.

“I knew I needed some help with my balance and so I spoke with my doctor and he recommended this thankfully,“ said Reid. “It’s an incredible experience; you learn a lot”

More than 112,000 Canadians over the age of 65 had to spend at least one night in the hospital after a serious fall. Vehicle collisions were the second leading cause, sending 5,885 seniors to the emergency room.

Having one fall puts a person at much higher risk of having subsequent falls. The Toronto Rehab program involves one hour of education and another hour of strength and balance exercises each week.

“We think of broken bones as an inconvenient injury requiring a few weeks of casts and crutches,” says senior scientist Geoff Fernie at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. “But for seniors, a broken hip can often mean the end of walking independently.”

Safety organization Parachute Canada estimates that about 90 per cent of serious injuries are actually preventable. Taking steps like wearing no-slip footwear both indoors and outdoors can help.

Fernie recommends that seniors change into running shoes when they get home, instead of wearing socks or bare feet around the house. He also says that seniors should buy new winter boots every year to ensure that the treads have maximum slip-resistance.