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Latest research makes senior health experts rethink fall prevention guidelines

February 8, 2013

Falls are one of the greatest threats to healthy aging. Not only do the incidents, which impact an estimated one-third of adults 65 and older, cause injury, they could also be indicative of a number of other health issues. As such, it should come as no surprise that fall prevention is a cornerstone of senior health, and the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) has gone to significant lengths to help older adults and their families implement strategies to reduce falls, according to U.S. News and World Report.

The AGS revised its guidelines in 2011, its first update in a decade, to help reflect the considerable research performed over the interim years. Most notably, senior health experts now point to studies strongly suggesting that exercises such as Tai Chi and cardiovascular training are some of the best ways to lower fall risk. Additionally, the new guidelines highlight the important role that vitamin D plays in helping seniors maintain their balance, something that wasn't quite confirmed 10 years ago.

"Eleven years ago, we didn't have a lot of research to back up the anecdotal things we thought were important," Sharon A. Brangman, the former president of the AGS, told the publication. 

The revised guidelines focus on several other areas as well, including the role that medication could play in causing falls. Some experts say that taking excessive medication, some of which may not be well-suited for seniors, is the leading cause of falls, which highlights the importance of seniors and their families discussing such treatments at every doctor's visit.

Home design can also play a significant role in preventing falls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors living at home or in retirement communities can reduce their risk by removing obstacles such as furniture, cords, or other debris that could be a serious tripping hazard.