Simple strategies to reduce risk of senior falls

Published: May. 1, 2019 at 3:32 PM EDT
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Falls are the leading cause of death among older adults in the U.S. Research suggests 9,600 to 45,000 falls end up with the person seeking medical treatment could be prevented with simple strategies to reduce risk. And that could save anywhere from $94 to $442 million a year -- not to mention save lives.

F. Peter Rose is used to being active. "I was a lifelong hiker," said the South Burlington resident. He realized over 87-years his body had become weaker, and when a friend fell, it prompted him to take action to protect himself. "That's why I'm here. Working on balance and stamina."

He's at the office of physical therapist Timothy Bisonnette to get his balance tested. Standing up and sitting down is fine, but standing heel to toe his balance is shaky. That's an exercise he'll need to practice more at home next to a counter for safety.

"It's going to be tough. You can expect to wobble a bit," Bisonnette said. He says these kinds of exercises are among the simple things seniors can do. "Regular involvement in exercise -- strength training, balance training, staying active, active lifestyle, active in the community, regular visits with their physician, taking a look at medications."

And he says preventing a fall in the first place is crucial. "We know that when somebody has one fall, that greatly impacts their balance confidence, which could lead to decreased activity," Bisonnette said.

Rose says it takes discipline, but the exercises are worth it. "One has to keep pushing -- that's my message... to all ancient people," he said with a laugh.