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Every year, thousands of older adults fall and hurt themselves. Falls are one of the main causes of injury and loss of independence in people ages 65 and older.
There are many reasons older people fall. They may lose their footing when stepping off a street curb. Or they may fall after getting dizzy from taking medicines. Some falls may be related to the effects of aging, such as muscle weakness or delayed reflexes. Or falls may be related to the results of a stroke.
Experts agree that some falls in older adults can be prevented. But since each person's risks are a bit different, talk to your doctor about which of the tips below might help you.
For a complete list of hazards to look for
and fix at home, see this
checklist for preventing falls(What is a PDF document?).
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)
provides information and education to raise the public's awareness of
musculoskeletal conditions, with an emphasis on preventive measures. The AAOS
website contains information on orthopedic conditions and treatments, injury
prevention, and wellness and exercise.
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Move Forward website provides information
and education to the public about physical therapy and how it is used to treat
certain conditions. APTA is a national
organization representing over 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist
assistants, and students. APTA's goal is to foster advancements in physical
therapist education, practice, and research.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal
and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) is a governmental institute that serves the public
and health professionals by providing information, locating other information
sources, and participating in a national federal database of health
information. NIAMS supports research into the causes, treatment, and prevention
of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases and supports the training of
scientists to carry out this research.
The NIAMS website provides
health information referrals to the NIAMS Clearinghouse, which has information
packages about diseases.
The National Institute on Aging (NIA), one of the
centers of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, leads a broad scientific
effort to understand the nature of aging and to extend the healthy, active
years of life. The NIA funds research and provides information about health and
research advances to the public and interested groups.
As a service provided by the National Institutes of Health, this online resource center helps people learn about metabolic bone diseases and how to cope with them. The website has information on falls under their "Bone Basics" tab. It also has information on osteoporosis and other bone diseases, such as osteogenesis imperfecta and Paget's disease of bone.
Other Works Consulted
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and American Academy of Pediatrics (2010). Falls and traumatic injuries in the elderly patient. In JF Sarwark, ed., Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, 4th ed., pp. 96–100. Rosemont, IL: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Graham P, et al. (2010). Fall reduction strategies section of The prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. In WR Frontera, ed., DeLisa’s Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, vol. 1, pp. 994–996. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
August 26, 2011
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Elizabeth A. Phelan, MD, MS - Geriatric Medicine
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