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Study examines fall prevention techniques

Fall prevention is often a great challenge for senior care providers. Though about one-third of adults over 65 experience a fall each year, they are not a normal part of aging, yet it can be difficult to find effective ways to stop them from happening. However, a large study recently found that there are certain programs that are especially effective.

The research, led by scientists from New Zealand, looked at 159 studies including more than 79,000 participants. The trials focused on the impact certain interventions can have on senior falls. Some studies analyzed the effects of taking vitamin D while others looked at what role having certain treatments such as cataract surgery could have. While a few studies showed promise, it was lifestyle changes that may be the most effective.

"The strongest evidence is for exercise that contains multiple components such as strength and balance training, whether carried out in groups or prescribed for people in their homes," researchers Lesley Gillespie and Clare Robertson told Reuters Health. "These programs appear to reduce the number of falls experienced by about on average 30 percent and the number of people falling by about 20 percent."

The findings add further evidence suggesting that helping older adults stay physically active should be a key component of senior care, especially given the prevalence and impact of senior falls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death among older adults and account for more than 2 million emergency room visits every year.

Along with making sure seniors stay active, care providers can help them avoid falls by making sure the home is clear of tripping hazards including newspapers, shoes or small, loose rugs.