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What steps are taken among elderly adults to prevent falls?

Goldina Erowele
Caregiving

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The stats:

  • In 2008, 82% of fall deaths were among people 65 and older.
  • Men are more likely to die from a fall. After taking age into account, the fall death rate in 2007 was 46% higher for men than for women.
  • Older whites are 2.5 times more likely to die from falls as their black counterparts.
  • Rates also differ by ethnicity. Older non-Hispanics have higher fatal fall rates than Hispanics.

Older adults can remain independent and reduce their chances of falling. They can:

  • Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that they get more challenging over time. Tai Chi programs are especially good. Check with your doctor first!
  • Ask your local pharmacist to review their medicines—both prescription, natural supplements, herbals and over-the counter—to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.
  • When was your last eye exam? Have their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update their eyeglasses to maximize their vision.
  • Make their homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding stair railings and improving the lighting in their homes.
  1. Hausdorff JM, Rios DA, Edelber HK. Gait variability and fall risk in community–living older adults: a 1–year prospective study. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2001;82(8):1050–6.
  2. Hornbrook MC, Stevens VJ, Wingfield DJ, Hollis JF, Greenlick MR, Ory MG. Preventing falls among community–dwelling older persons: results from a randomized trial. The Gerontologist 1994:34(1):16–23.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web–based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. Accessed November 30, 2010.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.