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Q: What are the main causes for the elderly to fall?

Posted March 05, 2014 in Advice Column, Ames

A: Falls are the leading cause of death, injury and hospital admissions among the elderly population. In fact, one out of every three seniors falls every year. Last year alone, more than 1.6 million seniors were treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries. Several factors contribute to the fact that seniors fall so much more frequently than younger people:

Lack of physical activity. Failure to exercise regularly results in poor muscle tone, decreased bone mass, loss of balance and reduced flexibility. Impaired vision. This includes age-related vision diseases, as well as not wearing glasses that have been prescribed. Medications. Sedatives, anti-depressants, and anti-psychotic drugs, plus taking multiple medications are all implicated in increasing risk of falling. Diseases. Health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, urinary tract infections and arthritis cause weakness in the extremities, poor grip strength, balance disorders and cognitive impairment. Surgeries: Hip replacements and other surgeries leave an elderly person weak, in pain and discomfort and less mobile than they were before the surgery. Environmental hazards. One third of all falls in the elderly population involve hazards at home. Factors include poor lighting, loose rugs and lack of safety equipment.

However, falls are not an inevitable part of growing older. Many falls can be prevented, by making the home safer and using products and services that help keep seniors more stable and less likely to fall. For more information, call At-Home Care at 292-2650 for a free consultation.

Information provided by Joan Ingwersen, owner, At-Home Care Company LLC, 113 Colorado Ave. Ames, 515-292-2650.

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