A new set of guidelines advise older adults that want to stave off falls to exercise. Previous guidelines had recommended just a higher intake of vitamin D to prevent osteoporotic fractures.
Many seniors are concerned about nasty falls as the consequences can be life-threatening. In the U.S., falls are one of the top most common causes of injury and death among Americans aged 65 or older.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that an adult falls every second in the States, and that 20% of those falls lead to a serious injury, like head injuries or broken bones (aka fractures).
Each year, America’s emergency rooms treat 2.8 million seniors with injuries after a severe fall. Fractures are the worst type of fall-related injuries. They can impair the individual so much that he may require assistance with daily activities.
Tens of Thousands of Americans Killed by Falls
A study shows that one in two seniors who had a hip fracture needs assistance with daily living after one year since the incident. Around 20-30% of those patients will die within one year. Every year, 33,000 older Americans die from unintentional falls.
The recent guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) suggest that previous advice is outdated. The group’s vice chair Dr. Alex Krist noted that falls and bone fractures from falls are “fairly common.”
The USPSTF recommends people aged 65 or older to exercise since they are at a higher risk of falling by default. The type of exercise should be tailored by a health care provider based on the patient’s needs.
Dr. Krist recommends Tai Chi group exercises to seniors who are “pretty active” and physical therapy to more frail seniors or those who are not even able to walk without assistance.
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