Deaths from falls are up; here's how to prevent them

News briefs

Published: October, 2019

Falls are among the biggest killers of older adults. And a pair of studies published June 4, 2019, in JAMA sheds light on the problem and a possible solution. The first study suggests that from 2000 to 2016, death rates among U.S. adults (ages 75 or older) more than doubled, from 52 to 122 per 100,000 people. This result is consistent with many earlier studies. The second study offers a potential way to help prevent falls. Researchers randomly divided 345 older adults who'd suffered a fall into two groups. The people in one group took part in a home-based program involving strength and balance exercises three times per week and a 30-minute walk twice a week. They also received some visits from a physical therapist. The people in the comparison group were asked not to exercise, and they saw their doctors only occasionally. After one year, the exercise group experienced 36% fewer falls than the non-exercise group. The findings support the benefits of exercising to prevent falls. Still, you should talk with your doctor or a physical therapist about whether and how you might try a home-based program.

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