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Older People Can Prevent Falls and Resulting Injuries

Being more careful is only part of the prevention of falls for people 65 and older. Experts who have studied falls recommend that people take measures to protect themselves from falls, like they do to protect themselves against heart disease or viral infections, reported The New York Times (11.3.14).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that adults over 65 years of age have the highest number of fatal falls. Among older adults, falls are actually the top cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries.

Regular exercise classes can help, especially those that include balance drills, such as standing on one foot. Studies have shown tai chi may reduce falls in seniors by up to 45%, said Dr. Peter Wayne, research director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Tai chi involves very slow, purposeful movements in coordination with breathing and muscle activity.

Integrating balance and strength work into daily life, like standing on one foot while brushing teeth, for example, can help as well.

Several studies have shown that vitamin D reduces falls. According to WebMD, taking a certain number of Vitamin D supplements a day may make falling 19% less likely for people aged 65 and older.

Medical management is an important aspect of fall prevention. The New York Times said people on multiple medications or blood pressure medication can be at especially high risk of falling. One recommendation to reduce falls is for elderly patients to discuss their drugs with their physician, with a thought towards lowering dosages or eliminating unnecessary medications. Also, remaining appropriately hydrated, particularly on hot days or for people at risk for low blood pressure is important.

Identifying risk factors and utilizing prevention tips can help to avoid falls. This strategy includes reducing the number of trip, slip and fall hazards at home. Throw rugs should be removed, for examples, and floors and stairways kept clear of hazards. Other strategies include the addition of grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower, adding railings on both sides of stairways, and improved home lighting.

A slip and fall accident refers to situations when someone slips, trips or falls as a result of a dangerous or hazardous condition on someone else’s property. The fall can be the result of water, ice, snow or recently waxed floors, as well as abrupt changes in flooring, poor lighting, or a hidden hazard, such as loose floorboards or a pothole in the ground. Individuals who have been injured in a slip and fall accident, may be entitled to collect compensation for the damages and costs associated with any injuries.

The New York Times article cited is “Steps to Avoid an Accident.”


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