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Preventing Falls in the Elderly: August 25, 2011

Falls are generally considered accidents, but more and more they’re being looked at as preventable.

“There are many reasons why people fall as you get older. You get cataracts, your vision is not the same. Some people develop neurologic problems, so there are lots of reasons why people fall,” says Dr. Sal Lacagnina, Vice President of Health and Wellness for Lee Memorial Health System.

Falls have significant health impacts. Nationwide, falls are the leading cause of injury death in those 65 and older. And 30% of those who survive a fall will suffer an injury or broken bone, which can lead to further issues.

“If you fall down and you break a hip, the chances of ending up in a nursing home are about 50%,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

Dr. Lacagnina works in preventative medicine. He finds you can lessen your fall risk by first assessing your home, putting grab bars where needed and looking for hazards.

“Even thing that occur in the home, people have throw rugs on the floor that are slippery on the bottom and they may just trip and fall because of that,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

Getting your vision checked and meeting with your doctor to review your medicines are other good measures. One of the best protections is to increase your strength and balance.

Lee Memorial Health System offers balance screenings and therapy.

“We also work what we call ‘balance strategies’ which helps you if you do start to lose your balance there’s subconscious strategies that you used to help recover your balance before you actually hit the floor,” says Brandie Redman, a Lee Memorial Health System physical therapist.

Taking a balanced approach may keep you upright and healthy.