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Medical experts warn more older Americans are dying from accidental falls

From WN

wo new reports published this week said fatal falls in older Americans have nearly tripled in recent years to more than 25,000 deaths annually in the United States, according to VOA News. 

Another study also said fall prevention focusing on improving muscle strength and balance could help reduce those numbers.

Both reports were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Even though the data didn’t include circumstances around the falls, traumatic brain injuries and hip fractures which led to declines in health was among the leading causes of death in older adults. 

“Deaths from falls may have increased because older people are living longer, living longer independently, and are living longer with chronic conditions,” said Elizabeth Burns, a study co-author and health scientist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s injury center.

Burns said some medications also make older adults prone to falls since some prescription drugs can affect balance while other psychiatric medications can cause vision problems and drowsiness. 

The report included data spanning 16 years from vital statistics data collected on American adults aged 75 and older. 

Fatal falls increased from 8,600 in 2000 to 25,190 in 2016, while CDC data revealed they continued to rise again in 2017 to nearly 26,440 fatal falls. 

Results of the study more than doubled from 511 fatal falls per 100,000 people to 122 falls per 100,000 people and echoed similar findings which researched fatal falls in the Netherlands and other European nations. 

Dr. Marco Pahor of the University of Florida’s aging and geriatric research department, who wrote an accompanying journal editorial, said older adults can perform weight-bearing exercise which focuses on balance and resistance to held better strengthen muscles and reduce risks for falls. 

Dr. Pahor’s studied a program which included conducting exercises three times a week at home for a year, with five sessions led by a physical therapist. 

The routine would often include knee bends, backward walking, seated and standing leg lifts, along with walking for half an hour at least twice a week. 

That study was conducted among 344 Canadian adults who were aged 70 and older who recently experienced a fall.

He also said many older adults aren’t aware of how exercise programs can help them and that senior centers and other community organizations should offer tips to seniors., Maureen Foody

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