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What Does & Doesn’t Help Prevent Falls in the Elderly

What Does & Doesn’t Help Prevent Falls in the Elderly

Falling presents a serious health risk for the elderly. Thirty-three percent of adults over age 65 fall every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For the senior population, falls top the rankings of injury-related death and are the most frequent cause of hospital trauma admission.

There are steps seniors and their caregivers can take to decrease the danger presented by falls.

A recent analysis of 159 separate studies on fall prevention in the elderly sheds some light on what existing research has to say on how to help a senior stay steady on their feet.

What works:

  • Exercise: Seniors who engaged in varied workouts (combining endurance, flexibility, balance, and strength) experienced a 15 percent decrease in their risk for falling. Tai Chi was also a beneficial exercise. The Chinese martial art was linked to a 28 percent decline in risk of falls in the elderly.
  • Having a doctor double-check meds: Programs aimed at weaning older adults off of certain prescriptions that may make them more prone to falling (anti-anxiety meds, sleep-inducers, and anti-depressants), appeared to cut down on their fall risk.
  • Correcting physical problems: Surgeries such as cataract correction and pacemaker implantation effectively decreased falls in seniors suffering from certain eye and heart conditions.
  • A home safety check-up: Having an occupational therapist evaluate and modify a senior’s home slashed their fall rate by 19 percent.

What doesn’t work:

  • Vitamin D supplements: Suggesting supplements didn’t appear to have a statistically significant effect on seniors in general when it comes to fall prevention, though study authors say that those who suffer from a serious vitamin deficiency may benefit from supplementation.
  • Education alone: Educating the elderly on the dangers of falls and how to prevent them didn’t help when nothing else was done to follow-up (i.e. no accompanying exercise program).

Check out the Mobility and Falls section for more information on how to help your loved one stay upright and injury-free.

Foiling Falls: What Works and What Doesn’t originally appeared on AgingCare.com.

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Read more: Aging, Caregiving, Health, Healthy Aging, , , , , ,

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor

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AgingCare.com

AgingCare.com connects family caregivers and provides support, resources, expert advice and senior housing options for people caring for their elderly parents. AgingCare.com is a trusted resource that visitors rely on every day to find inspiration, make informed decisions, and ease the stress of caregiving.

92 comments

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6:33AM PDT on Aug 25, 2013

Thanks for the info.

2:23AM PDT on Aug 13, 2013

Thank you :)

5:11PM PDT on Aug 12, 2013

Thanks.

8:21AM PDT on Aug 12, 2013

Thank you for sharing

7:19AM PDT on Aug 9, 2013

thanks. good advise.

3:02PM PDT on Aug 7, 2013

Tai chi

3:01PM PDT on Aug 7, 2013

Be safe..

11:42AM PDT on Aug 6, 2013

Thank you for the tips.

9:56AM PDT on Aug 6, 2013

good specific advice: Tai Chi for balance and strength is good advice.

12:44AM PDT on Aug 6, 2013

I will check with my local senior center for the schedule of Tai Chi classes and get started, even if it means I have to give up some of my communication on Care2.
I've always admired the grace and fluidity of the Tai Chi movements, now no more excuses even if I have to get up earlier than usual.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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