FREDERICTON (CNB) – New Brunswickers are being encouraged to help seniors stay safe and healthy this Christmas.

"Falls are a serious health risk for seniors," said Social Development Minister Sue Stultz, who is also minister responsible for seniors, housing and community non-profit organizations. "They contribute to injury and a decline in quality of life for the elderly. Our government wants to help New Brunswickers care for their families. This holiday season, I encourage them to consider Christmas gifts that will help prevent falls and injuries for their seniors."

A senior's Christmas wish list may include: battery-operated emergency flashlights; plug-in night lights for bathrooms and hallways; fluorescent tape to mark the edges of steps; rubber-backed non-slip mats; bathroom grab bars and bath chairs; cordless phones; ice-melting compounds for walks and steps; sensor lights for outside entry areas; laundry cart with wheels; garage door opener; gift certificates for snow removal, home repair or yard work; taxi vouchers for bad weather days; a personal emergency response system; or a certificate for an exercise program suited to the senior's needs.

According to a Seniors Falls in Canada report from the Public Health Agency of Canada, a 20 per cent reduction in falls could result in a national savings of $138 million annually. An estimated 40 per cent of nursing home admissions occur as the result of a fall. About 35 out of a thousand New Brunswickers are a risk of falls each year.

"We can help the seniors in our lives stay safe and healthy by providing them with gifts and items to prevent them from suffering a fall, often in their own home," Stultz said. "Living comfortably at home is where our seniors prefer to be for as long as possible."