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How Seniors Can Prevent Falls.

Falls among older individuals are, unfortunately, quite common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than one third of adults 65 and older fall each year in the United States. People who have fallen sometimes develop a fear of falling that can lead to decreased participation in activities and lower level of physical fitness. Ironically, these factors actually increase the likelihood of experiencing a fall.

There are several key areas that help those over the age of 60 protect their independence and reduce their risk of falling. One of the most effective paths to prevention involves regular exercise. Exercise that focuses on improving balance is extremely important in the prevention of falls.

Tai Chi has been shown in various studies to be extremely useful in improving balance. Tai Chi is a combination of gentle movements, stretching, and meditation. Leg strengthening activities are also vital for balance improvement.

Focusing on leg strengthening three or more times per week for 20 to 60 minutes each time can be a major contributor of better balance for older adults. The use of a stationary bicycle, leg strengthening machines, and walking are just a few of the ways to focus on strengthening of the legs.

Seniors also need to be aware of hazards within their home that can contribute to increased risks for falls. Newspapers and magazines left lying on the floor are dangerous because it's easy to slip on these items.

Pathways in the home should be free of clutter. Rugs can lead to falls, especially if they cover hardwood floors or tiled areas. Electrical cords are a hazard as well. Good lighting is essential. Step stools should be eliminated. Organize commonly used items in a way that makes them easily accessible without the use of a step stool.

Regular exercise that emphasizes the improvement of balance and leg strengthening and a safe home environment are two of the most important ways to decrease the risk of falls. These simple measures will help ensure independence and reduce the risk of injury for older adults. A few changes in lifestyle can lead to a much improved quality of life for those over the age of 60.

"Old Age Home" - a portal for senior citizens and their families in South Africa - sponsored by Incolae Home for the Aged.