Harvard Men's Health Watch

Medical memo: Do it yourself?

Many American boys worship Bob the Builder, and many of their fathers and grandfathers retain the impulse to perform household chores by themselves. It's an admirable ideal, but one study tells us that it's not always such a good idea, particularly for older gents. In this age group, household activities are strongly linked to falling.

Falling is a common problem, and it's often very serious. In one study, some 18% of well-functioning older men reported falling at least once during the course of a year. Falls account for about 5% of hospitalizations in the elderly, and they are responsible for 90% of all hip fractures.

To find out why men fall, a team of researchers tracked 5,995 American men 65 or older. All the men were living independently in one of six geographically and ethnically diverse sites in the U.S., and they were all able to walk without assistance when the study began in 2000.

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