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Vitamin D Supplementation and Fall Risk

High doses of Vitamin D increase the risk of falls in the elderly.

Swiss researchers evaluated monthly high-dose vitamin D supplementation in 200 adults 70 years and older with a history of a fall in the past year. They were randomized to receive one of three monthly regimens, including the control group. At 12 months, lower extremity function was the same in all groups, but fall rates were higher except in the control group. An editorial suggested those over 70 should consume 800 IU daily of vitamin D, preferably from a balanced diet.

PositiveTip: Adequate exposure to sunlight daily, combined with a balanced diet is important to assure sufficient vitamin D.

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Prevent Falls with Simple Home Modifications

Low-cost safety modifications help prevent falls and injuries.

Simple home safety modifications for the elderly can reduce the risk of falls significantly. Homes which had added handrails, non-slip bath mats, and slip resistant surfaces and steps were compared over 3 years with those who did have this safety modifications. The occupants of the safer homes had 26% fewer falls and 39% few injuries each year. These benefits were very cost effective.

PositiveTip:  Evaluate the home of your elderly and make necessary safety modifications.

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BP Meds Up Hip Fractures in Elderly

First month and a half of BP medication increases the risk of hip fracture by 43%.

The risk of fracturing a hip is significantly higher during the first 45 days of antihypertensive treatment than before or after. A large Canadian study of older adults found that this risk was consistent for all classes of anti-hypertensives, and is thought to be caused by dizziness, fainting, or syncope.

PositiveTip: While blood pressure medications may be necessary in some older adults, careful monitoring for falls would be prudent.

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At-home and Group Exercise Cuts Falls in Seniors

Exercise helps reduce the risk of falls in the elderly.

Group and home-based exercise programs decrease the risk of falling among the elderly living in the community according to a large review and meta-analysis. Group exercise decreased the risk of falling by 15% compared to no exercise, and at-home activities reduced the risk by 22%. Targeting at least two of the following factors was effective in reducing risks: strength, flexibility, or endurance. Taking supplements of vitamin D probably did not reduce falls, unless a person had a low blood level.

PositiveTip: Physical activity at all ages promotes health and reduces the risk of accidents.

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Novel Exercise Program Yields Benefits

Walk sideways and stand on one foot to prevent falls!

Australian researchers have found in a radomized trial that embedding balance and strength movements into every day activities may help older people prevent falls and improve overall strength and balance. Those participants who employed these exercises in everyday life experienced 31% fewer falls when compared to the control group during the 12 month follow-up. Activities included things such as carrying the groceries from the car to the steps while walking sideways, ironing while standing on one leg, or squatting in the supermarket to select something off the lower shelf.