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Study uncovers effective fall prevention techniques

September 14, 2012

Despite the prevalence of falls in adults over 65, they are not a natural part of growing older, and recent research sheds light on some of the best ways to prevent them. Specifically, targeted exercise programs are one of the most effective methods, but other interventions showed significant promise as well, Reuters reports.

The study, led by a pair of researchers from New Zealand, analyzed the results of 159 separate batches of research that focused on more than 79,000 seniors engaged in certain programs. The studies looked at everything from taking increased levels of vitamin D to changes in glasses, but it was physical activity such as Tai Chi that may have the most substantial benefits.

"The strongest evidence is for exercise that contains multiple components such as strength and balance training, whether carried out in groups or prescribed for people in their homes," the lead researchers, Lesley Gillespie and Clare Robertson, told Reuters.

The results also found that modifications around the home, including better lighting and the removal of small rugs, can also have a significant impact. However, regardless of which methods seniors choose, the study helped highlight the important role that fall prevention plays in healthy aging.

Falls are one of the most serious issues facing older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one-third of adults over 65 experience a fall each year, and the medical costs of falls reach about $28 billion. But aside from the financial implications, about 20 to 30 percent of seniors who have a fall are seriously injured, which can not only make it more difficult for them to get around but may also contribute to an earlier death.