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Life Lessons: Preventing falls, Pt. 2

By Nancy Werteen, Anchor / Reporter, NWerteen@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 14 2014 04:00:00 AM CST

Life Lessons: Preventing falls, Pt. 2

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one in every three adults age 65 and older will suffer from a fall that can have very difficult consequences.

Winter can be a tricky time for seniors with snowy weather and slippery sidewalks, but experts say falls can happen any time of year and many times happen at home.

Ninety-three-year-old Mary Marish, a resident at Woodland Terrace in Allentown, says she has fallen before. " Well, I am very careful now. I had a fall in my bathroom. I don't know what caused it, I just fell. I was standing up and all of a sudden I went down."

The outcome of a simple fall for a senior can be moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas, but a fall can also increase the risk of early death.

"Ninety percent of hip fractures occur in the 65-plus population after a fall and what we're seeing is that 20 percent of those people will die within a year," says Matthew Weber, doctor of physical therapy for Fox Rehabilitation.

Weber says there are many reasons seniors are at risk for falls.

"As you age, things start to break down naturally within the physiology and anatomy of an older adult and so it's important you do your best to maintain it," he says.

To prevent falls, seniors should:

*Exercise regularly.
*Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines (as some may cause side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness.)
*Have their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year
*Get enough calcium and vitamin D

"A little exercise each day, staying well hydrated, making sure you stay balanced and using an assistive device if you start to loose your balance or notice balance deficits are also helpful," adds Weber.

Doctors also urge seniors to get screened and treated for osteoporosis.

Woodland Terrace at the Oaks in Allentown is offering a free workshop on Wednesday, January 15th at 10 a.m. with advice for seniors on how to increase their strength, balance, and mobility.

Weber explains the program is set up to show seniors specific exercises that will help them prevent a fall from happening.

"We're doing a high level progressive intensive exercise program for the senior citizen population specifically to reduce falls," he says.

If you'd like more information about the exercise program at Woodland Terrace, go to the Woodland Terrace website or call 610-433-9220.